Thursday, August 13, 2020

Vaccines Are Firmly In the Minds of Heavy Lift Specialist Airline - Covid-19 or Otherwise

All Pharma Shipments are Practice Runs for What May Lay Ahead
Shipping News Feature

RUSSIA – GERMANY – BELGIUM – AFRICA – Talk of vaccines at the moment, particularly those emanating from Russia, and thoughts go immediately to President Putin's reported claim this week that his country had come up with a way to deal with Covid-19, so safe he has given it to his own daughter. Whilst doubts have been expressed over this item, what is certain is that some other vaccines are being shipped from the country.

Heavy lift airline AirBridgeCargo (ABC) says, in conjunction with freight forwarding and logistics group DSV, it has delivered yellow fever vaccines from Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport to Frankfurt, with the goods then delivered by truck to Liege. Always tricky as temperature is a crucial factor in such moves, DSV prepared over 1,000 special boxes to guarantee safe and intact delivery of the delicate medicines.

The UNICEF consignment weighed in at 36 tonnes and was destined to make the long complex journey on to Africa where it will enter the immunisation programme against a disease which, like Covid-19, is a virus, but one generally transferred by mosquitoes, as is malaria. Yellow fever kills tens of thousands each year and has been on the increase in the past three decades. Ivan Shevchenko, Airfreight manager Air&Sea, DSV, commented:

“DSV Russia focuses on arrangement and securing uninterrupted supply of vaccines for UNICEF and other vital supplies for people in need. ABC is the leader in pharma transportation and our reliable carriers, always trusted by us to accomplish this important mission.”

In July DSV announced it was upscaling its air charter services whilst ABC has been prioritising its healthcare offering introducing sterile services, advancing its online solutions to improve customer experience, disinfecting cargo and cargo equipment, including freighters, and working under the protection of its frontline personnel across the globe. Nikolay Glushnev, General Director, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, said:

“For the last five years, we have deepened our expertise in the transportation of healthcare products, with vaccines being of paramount importance to prolong the life of the world’s population and facilitate well-timed vaccination, especially for children. While yellow fever still stays a very common disease in Africa and South America, we are honoured to be part of the cold chain to prevent its further spread and support routine immunisation programmes of the local population.”

Covid-19 however remains firmly in focus and ABC has been getting ready for what may be needed to transfer vast quantities of vaccine to all points of the globe as speedily as possible. In Amsterdam 41RKN CSafe containers, containing more than 30 tonnes of temperature-sensitive medicines, were recently securely loaded and stowed on board main and lower decks to optimise aircraft capacity and guarantee safe delivery of the total shipment without its breakdown for different flights on route to Shanghai.

For the first six months of 2020, ABC has managed to achieve a 60% uptick in temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments, surpassing 11,000 tonnes. Yulia Celetaria, Global Director, Pharma for AirBridgeCargo Airlines, explained the thinking:

“This transportation, to some extent, is the rehearsal to check that we are well-prepared for the Covid-19 vaccine, once testing is finalised. For the last five years, we have deepened our cooperation with providers of temperature-sensitive containers and now, in the middle of the pandemic, we are in constant dialogue with our trusted partners, Envirotainer, SkyCell, va-Q-tec, DoKaSch, CSafe, Sonoco and others regarding strategic container reserve. Last year we successfully gained our IATA CEIV Pharma re-certification, which stands as an industry commitment to be a reliable partner of cold chain and keep 100% vaccine integrity.”

Photo: The specially packed Yellow Fever vaccine makes its way toward Africa.