Within Brucargo, the cargo division of Brussels Airport, the BRUcure Taskforce is taking the lead for the transport of the first COVID-19 vaccines. The long-standing collaboration within the cargo community and the relationship of trust with the pharma manufacturers are making Brussels Airport the preferred pharma gateway in Europe for the COVID-19 vaccine, claims the airport.
A strength of Brucargo in the collaboration between operators and shippers, is the use of the same standard processes and compliance checks, developed in consultation with these shippers. Within the BRUcure Taskforce, a specific standard operating procedure is under development for the COVID-19 vaccine. In this way, every player in the chain knows which requirements must be met when handling a COVID-19 vaccine shipment.
“Thanks to intensive digitisation, our cargo community also has a centralised platform for sharing all relevant data regarding a shipment. For the COVID-19 vaccine transport, we want to offer complete transparency to all shippers and each operator within the chain, so that the location and quality of the shipment can be easily tracked,” says Nathan De Valck, head of cargo product and network development of Brussels Airport Company.
Geert Keirens of Air Cargo Belgium says: “The COVID-19 vaccine story yet again shows the strength of Brucargo. Thanks to our community’s extensive experience in transporting vaccines, in particular the Ebola vaccine on dry ice, and the years of collaboration, our cargo community can offer a robust logistics platform for importing and exporting all types of COVID-19 vaccines, at the service of public health. In addition, ACB, thanks to a partnership with the province of Flemish Brabant, is focusing on a community control tower function, whereby shipments of COVID-19 vaccine will be continuously monitored at Brucargo.”
Prepared for any scenario
The first job of the BRUcure Taskforce is to define all possible scenarios for the various types of vaccines. Each type of vaccine demands a different method of transport, packaging and storage. Some vaccines, for example, must be shipped on dry ice, while others will require refrigeration at the customary 2-8 degrees Celsius. Pharma specialist Samuel Speltdoorn, cargo business development manager at Brussels Airport Company, will be heading up the Taskforce.
“In addition to temperature sensitivity, there are quite a few unknown elements, such as the manufacturing location of the vaccines, the number of doses per person, the volume that a cargo pallet with vaccines will occupy taking into account the packaging, and so on. All companies active in temperature-sensitive transport at our airport are now working together to offer an answer for each scenario,” he explains.
An application is under development for the BRUcloud digital platform which will make it possible to track the COVID-19 shipment in real time at any moment in the transport chain. “Here too we have to assess what this means in the various scenarios. Monitoring a shipment on dry ice may require a different detection system than the regular refrigerated shipments. These different monitoring systems must then all be linked to the BRUcloud platform,” says Speltdoorn.