As worldwide vaccine distribution continues to pick up, there has never been a more critical time for collaboration amongst players in the air cargo and supply chain to ensure the safe transport of these life-saving doses.
This was what the original partners had in mind when Abu Dhabi Ports, Etihad Cargo, Rafed (purchasing arm of Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company or ADQ), and air freight container specialist SkyCell joined Abu Dhabi’s Hope Consortium, the UAE-based public-private partnership tasked with coordinating the safe and efficient international distribution of billions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines, spearheaded by the Department of Health.
Last week, the consortium was joined by world-renowned freight forwarders—Bolloré Logistics, CEVA Logistics, DB Schenker, DHL, FedEx Express, MICCO Logistics, RSA Global, and UPS—who will join the existing distribution group to expedite the global delivery of Covid-19 vaccines.
These forwarders will add their expertise, infrastructure, and capabilities to meet the complex requirements of planning demand, storing and transporting billions of vaccine doses under cold and ultra-cold conditions.
The importance of having shared information across the supply chain has been stressed by leaders in the industry, particularly since tight capacity and different temperature requirements were seen as a potential bottleneck in the foreseen distribution.
In November, the Cold Chain Association (CCA) launched a Covid-19 distribution matrix for airports and CCA members that would consolidate information on potential pinch points, training needs, safety and security, as well as supplier and risk management, and quality. Special emphasis was also placed on the need for both shippers and legislators to play their part.
Fabrizio Iacobacci, CCA board member and head of pharma business development at Bcube Air Cargo, cited the need to have the buy-in from Customs and other legislators, “but we should also look at encouraging shippers to be involved and start investing in signing up for Known Shipper status wherever possible to help speed up the process,” he added.
Etihad Cargo said the collaboration of these leading freight forwarders ‘continues to cement the credibility of the vaccine consortium as the main platform for sourcing logistical solutions for distributing Covid-19 vaccines globally.’
Abu Dhabi’s health undersecretary, Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, in a statement, commented, “Increasing our partners to 16 enables the HOPE consortium to continue to expand its reach and services to be a major player in the global logistical space for distributing billions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines, despite the great logistical challenge of transporting doses safely while maintaining their integrity.
“Partnering with more world-class freight forwarders enables the consortium to address the different needs of countries, NGOs, and pharma needs for most of the world. The consortium is part of the UAE’s efforts to provide solutions that support the global fight against Covid-19,” he added.