Abu Dhabi: The UAE has so far helped deliver about 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 26 different countries across the world, a top Abu Dhabi official revealed on Thursday.
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamsi, group chief executive officer at Abu Dhabi Ports, added that the Abu Dhabi-led Hope Consortium is developing its capabilities to deliver 18 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
Al Shamsi was speaking at a media briefing ahead of the World Immunisation and Logistics Summit, which will next week convene government officials, medical experts and vaccine developers to discuss the challenges and solutions to COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution.
“We view this summit as a launchpad that will launch us away from this pandemic and into a world [safe from the adverse impacts of COVID-19]. More than three billion people are within reach of Abu Dhabi through five to six-hour flights, and we have the strategic geographical location, traceability, infrastructure and competence to deliver vaccines to them,” Al Shamsi said.
The Hope Consortium is an Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) initiative that brings together public and private sector partners to provide an end-to-end solution for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally. The partners include the DoH, Abu Dhabi Ports, Etihad Cargo, Maqta Gateway, Rafed and SkyCell.
The Consortium is organising the upcoming two-day summit in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in order to drive the conversation regarding equitable and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE’s health sector, said the UAE has already shown its prowess in the fight against COVID-19, having administered 76 jabs per 100 people. She added that logistical challenges are currently hindering vaccine access globally and the consortium will extend the country’s transportation, storage and technological capabilities to provide last-mile solutions in vaccine delivery.
The consortium has already partnered with 12 large international freight forwarders, including DHL, FedEx Express, UPS, MICCO and Aramex, and it has built a large ultra cold storage facility so that vaccines that required different temperature conditions can be safely stored. Robert Sutton, head of logistics at Abu Dhabi Ports, told Gulf News that the storage facility can store and move vaccines at all the different required temperature bands, ranging from -80 degrees Celsius to about 8 degrees Celsius.
In turn, Etihad Cargo can also supply the temperatures required to safely transport the vaccines by air. Martin Drew, managing director of cargo and logistics at Etihad Cargo, said the UAE national carrier’s cargo division has already transported 12 million vaccine doses since November.
Rafed has been roped in to manage procurement functions, whereas SkyCell will provide last-mile container transport.
The World Immunisation and Logistics Summit next week will feature a number of globally-renowned speakers, including Tedros Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation director general, Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director, and Mark Suzman, chief executive office of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The two-day event will provide an open forum for dialogue around the logistical challenges of vaccine mobilisation, with the aim of finding solutions to achieve worldwide distribution.