Dubai: Emirates SkyCargo, the airline’s cargo unit, has transported more than one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines on its aircraft.
The operator said it achieved the milestone within a span of 18 months after the first shipment of vaccines was trialled in October 2020. More than 4,200 tonnes of COVID-19 vaccines, equivalent to over one billion doses, have been moved to over 80 destinations on over 2,000 Emirates flights. Close to two-thirds of the one billion doses were transported to developing countries.
“The strategic location of our Dubai hub combined with the strengths of our modern fleet of widebody aircraft, our purpose-built facilities and capabilities in moving temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals allowed us to transport COVID-19 vaccines securely, reliably and rapidly from one corner of the globe to another,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.
“From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Emirates SkyCargo has been focused on supporting global communities in their recovery from the devastating effects of the virus and we have prioritised assistance to developing countries,” said Sultan.
As early as August 2020, Emirates SkyCargo was one of the first air cargo carriers to begin mapping out the global logistics for the movement of potential vaccines for COVID-19 transport. In October 2020, Emirates announced that it would be setting aside a dedicated EU GDP-certified airside hub for transport of COVID-19 vaccines.
In January 2021, Emirates SkyCargo teamed up with leading Dubai-based companies to form the Dubai ‘Vaccine Logistics Alliance’ to speed up distribution of vaccines through Dubai to developing countries. In February 2021, the carrier signed an agreement with UNICEF to prioritise transport and delivery of vaccines in support of the COVAX initiative. By early April 2021, Emirates SkyCargo had already transported more than 50 million doses of vaccines.
In June 2021, Emirates SkyCargo expanded its pharma cold chain infrastructure at Dubai International Airport, allowing it to store an additional estimated 60-90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines at any one point of time. With the global scaling up of vaccine distribution and administration, Emirates SkyCargo facilitated transport of larger volumes of COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturing origins to destinations, reaching 250 million doses by September 2021 and 600 million doses by December 2021.