After transporting the first vaccine consignment from China to Ndjamena back in February and the second arriving from Mumbai in early March, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services told ACW it is “more than ready to serve globally” in what IATA has labelled “the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry.”
“Now with a vaccine in sight, with are ready to facilitate the safe transport and careful handling of all sensitive cargo including the COVID-19 vaccine, we believe that we will play a key role & will have a major share in distributing the vaccine to the world,” said a spokesperson for Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services.
The infrastructure is already in place. Ethiopian’s ‘Pharma Wing’ is equipped with three climate chambers ranging from -25OC to +25OC dedicated for the handling of time and temperature sensitive healthcare products. These facilities are capable of storing more than 1.45 million kilos temperature controlled cargo at a time.
“We have also developed airport to airport supply chain solutions with the aim to deliver time and temperature sensitive healthcare products including vaccines, pharmaceuticals, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), blood and blood derivatives, life science products, biotechnologies and other medical supplies to reach their destinations safely and help to improve the lives of end users.
“A thorough knowledge, training and experience of the management and cold chain experts in healthcare logistics has helped us to roll out our legacy product, ‘Pharma Wing’.
“We have made all the necessary preparations to make use of our modern freighter & belly hold ﬂeet, the largest and well-equipped cargo facility. Our facility has a capacity to carry one million tonne annually, more than 56% of which is dedicated for cold chain facility.
“Besides, our connectivity, freighter network as well as the geographical location of our hub at Addis Ababa give us a competitive advantage for the transportation of much needed vaccines and other medical equipment.”
Ethiopian has also partnered with UNICEF to help secure the transport of vaccines and other life-saving supplies worldwide. The cargo carrier reports it has committed to prioritising the transport of the life-saving supplies, ensuring measures such as temperature control and security and adding freight capacity to routes where needed.
The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative has been formed with leading global airlines to support the COVAX Facility, a global solution to the COVID-19 pandemic that ensures participating countries have fair access to vaccines, regardless of their income level.
The amount of vaccines to be shipped into Africa is to be determined by the demand of different countries taking their capacity and population size into account.