Dubai has launched a Vaccine Logistics Alliance to speed the rollout of more than 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine takes place there as emerged obstacles to its distribution. Many of the vaccines, such as those from Pfizer and Moderna, requiring ultracold temperatures during transport and storage. These temperatures, as low as -70°C mean that the cold chain logistics industry is under immense pressure. Maintaining an unbroken cold chain to some of the world’s rural populations is a huge obstacle. In Southeast Asia which has an underdeveloped infrastructure and remote jungle and island populations, the challenge is compounded.
The Alliance is under the directive of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX initiative, whose efforts are aimed at the equitable distribution of more than 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide in 2021.
The Vaccine Alliance Group will leverage the cargo and logistics expertise of Emirates Airlines, together with the infrastructure of the Dubai Airports. The distribution efforts will focus mostly on emerging markets. The alliance is working with other stakeholders in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout such as the pharmaceutical manufacturers, freight forwarders, government agencies, and other entities involved in the transport of the vaccines.
We currently stand at the cusp of a historic moment with the roll-out of vaccines for countering COVID-19, a pandemic that has disrupted the lives of people around the world. The UAE is leading the world in terms of rolling out the vaccine, and in line with [Shaikh Mohammad’s] vision to facilitate a global solution for the well-being of communities, the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance brings together key organisations to expedite the worldwide transport of urgently needed vaccines through Dubai.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group
Each partner in the alliance brings something to the table, specific strength and capability. This allows us to harness the combined power of the Dubai Airports as a logistical hub. We are able to store large volumes of vaccine doses and distribute them anywhere in the world within 48 hours. This is critical when dealing with time-sensitive vaccines that require ultracold storage. The so-called “International Humanitarian City” is the world’s largest hub for humanitarian logistics and is a vital partner in the alliance.
“Under the guidance of [Shaikh Mohammad], International Humanitarian City, based in Dubai, has evolved to become the largest humanitarian hub in the world, playing a pivotal role in facilitating first responses to humanitarian crises across the globe. Since the current global crisis began, the IHC has facilitated the distribution of over 80 per cent of the WHO’s global medical response in the fight against COVID-19.”
Mohammad Ibrahim Al Shaibani, the Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of International Humanitarian City
DP World, a global logistics provider with ports and logistics terminals in every continent is also part of the alliance. They will facilitate the collection of vaccines from manufacturing sites in Europe, North America, and India, delivering them to seaports and terminals across the globe. Their network of warehouses and distribution hubs will be used for the storage of temperature sensitive vaccines. They will also utilize their track and trace technology which gives real-time location tracking and temperature monitoring.
DP World and UNICEF also announced a partnership to support the global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The target is low to middle-income countries with 2 billion doses as part of the UNICEF COVAX inititative.
Emirates Airlines last year already began converting some of their fleet of aircraft to be utilized for cargo. Their SkyCargo division is already a world leader in the air transportation of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. They have over 2 decades of experience in the cold chain logistics industry and are making their infrastructure and expertise available to the alliance. They were one of the first airlines to assist in the COVID-19 efforts, early 2020 utilizing their freight capabilities to transport much needed PPE to front line workers. Emirates SkyCargo has over 15,000 square meters of cold chain storage space at Dubai International Airport with Emirates Airlines and already has moved COVID-19 vaccines as early as December 2020.
Dubai also has a geographical advantage. Its central location between Asia and Europe makes it accessible to 80% of the world’s population within just 4 hours.