Cainiao Network, the logistics arms of Alibaba, announced a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines that will ensure efficient transport of Chinese vaccines once approved to the Middle East and Africa.
Operating out of Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport (SZX), which received CEIV Pharma certification from IATA, Cainiao said this will be China’s first regular cross-border medical cold chain route for transporting COVID-19 vaccines once regulatory approval is on the table.
The route will take shipments twice a week out of Shenzhen Airport to Africa and to the rest of Ethiopian’s network via Dubai and Addis Ababa.
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The logistics operator said the end-to-end transportation requires highly effective cold chain management. The climate-controlled compartments where vaccines will be stored on the aircraft, in addition to climate-controlled rooms at Shenzhen airport and the cargo terminal in Ethiopia, is equipped with a temperature control system to avoid excursions.
Compared to other vaccine candidates, Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines like those by Sinopharm and Sinovac only need to be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2˚C to 8˚C. Cainiao said it can handle vaccines that require temperature down to -23℃.
A cold-chain warehouse at Shenzhen airport, built in 2019, for frozen foods and goods was converted early this year to store coronavirus testing kits, and now vaccines, Payload Asia learned. Meanwhile, the cargo terminal in Ethiopia, meanwhile, has dedicated cool dollies to ensure seamless cold chain logistics for handling temperature-sensitive healthcare products.
“Cainiao’s global logistics network spans over 200 countries and regions, providing end-to-end integrated logistics services, including digital customs clearance capabilities,” said James Zhao, general manager of Cainiao International Supply Chain.
Flying more than 3,000 tonnes of medical supplies out of Shenzhen since the onset of the pandemic, Ethiopian Airlines said it will repeat its success in delivery, handling and maintaining the cold chain during the forthcoming global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.