JEDDAH: Saudia Cargo has joined UNICEF’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support the delivery of lifesaving coronavirus vaccines around the world.
The company is Saudi Arabia’s airfreight flag carrier. It has joined the initiative together with 10 leading airlines to help deliver vaccines alongside essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies.
As part of the initiative, air routes to more than 100 countries will support the COVAX Facility to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
Saudia Cargo joins Emirates, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa Cargo, Air France KLM, Martinair Cargo and Cargolux, among others.
COVAX Facility’s first round distribution plan will provide doses to 145 countries starting in the first half of this year. Countries will then immunize 3 percent of their population, which will be followed in the second half of the year by the further distribution of 2 billion vaccine doses.
“Saudia Cargo is ready and in full power to operate for the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative and take part in this global vaccine delivery effort through its wide range of destinations and connection points,” said CEO Omar Hariri.
“We fully understand our role and will work hand in hand with UNICEF and ensure maximum global reach for the vaccines. Safe, timely and efficient transportation of these supplies is paramount, and we are sure our air freighters will get the job done,” he added.
The initiative means that airlines will prioritize the delivery of lifesaving supplies, and requires them to add freight capacity to routes when necessary, and take important measures to maintain temperature control and security.
“Delivery of these lifesaving vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volume that needs to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the diversity of routes,” said Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF Supply Division.
“We are grateful to these airlines for joining forces with the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support the rollout of vaccines.”
The 10-strong fleet of airfreight companies will also form a global logistics mechanism for potential humanitarian health crises both now and in the future.
So far, COVAX has shipped more than 33 million vaccines to 74 countries.
Belize recently received 33,600 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, while Vietnam received 811,200 doses. Bolivia was also given 92,430 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
COVAX deliveries and subsequent vaccinations to health workers aim to empower their critical roles amid the pandemic.