Emirates prepares for global distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Emirates Airlines, the largest airline and flag carrier in the UAE is getting ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. This includes the Pfizer shot that has been claimed to be more than 90 percent effective against coronavirus.

President of the Dubai-based airline, Tim Clark said that Emirates is working on transporting Pfizer’s vaccine in special containers on its flights.

He said that the carrier has all the facility required to store the frontrunner vaccine below -70 degree Celsius, which is integral for its optimal performance.

Tim Clark
Tim Clark
Emirates Airlines

“We’re working on trying to move this Pfizer vaccine in specially designed containers on our planes, in our holds, and in the cabins, and keeping them at that level through the distribution point. We have the chillers, we have the freezers, we have the logistical control for the airline to get these vaccines into multiple parts of the world where others cannot. The industry is trying to establish best practice involving the third-party supply chain and this logistical exercise, to ensure we get them (vaccines) to the markets that need them so badly, and basically, that’s the whole planet.”

He said that the Pfizer vaccine will have a positive effect on the aviation industry’s recovery and the global economy as a whole. He further added that he is fully optimistic that all the challenges in transporting vaccines can be overcome.

“Emirates is best placed to undertake this logistical challenge. There is a global imperative to get this done,” he added.

US-based multinational pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer said last week that its experimental vaccine has been more successful than the others in the vaccine competition. It appeared that the vaccine, developed in collaboration with BioNTech, is safe and its manufacturers are expected to seek US approval for emergency use by December.

Russia also reported that its Sputnik-V vaccine has achieved 92 percent effectiveness in phase 3 trials, just days after Pfizer made its announcement.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in September that the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 aircraft will be needed to deliver vaccines worldwide after the vaccines have been approved for use by regulatory authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO).

IATA is coordinating with airlines, airports and governments for a major global airlift initiative. The program is based on the assumption that a person needs only one dose.

“Safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won’t happen without careful advance planning,” said Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive at IATA.