Riyadh: The Saudi Shipping company has joined UNICEF’s Humanitarian Air Cargo Initiative to support the delivery of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The company is the national carrier of air freight in Saudi Arabia and has joined the initiative with 10 leading airlines to help deliver vaccines as well as essential medicines, medical devices, and other vital supplies.
As part of the initiative, airports in more than 100 countries will support the COVAX facility to ensure adequate access to vaccines.
Saudi Airlines Cargo joins Emirates Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa Cargo, KLM France Airlines, Martinair Cargo, and Cargolux, among others.
The distribution of the first phase of the COVAX facility will provide 145 countries starting in the first half of 2021, after which countries will vaccinate 3 percent of their population, and then in the second half of the year, an additional 2 billion vaccine doses will be distributed.
CEO Omar Hariri said: “The Saudi Airlines Cargo Company is ready and fully energized to work on the UNICEF humanitarian air cargo initiative and to participate in global vaccine delivery efforts through a wide range of destinations and points of contact.”
“We fully understand our role and will work alongside UNICEF to ensure maximum global access to vaccines. The safe, timely , and efficient transportation of these supplies is crucial, and we are confident that our air freight companies will get the job done,” he added.
The step will make airlines prioritize the delivery of life-saving supplies, which is required to increase cargo capacity on routes when needed, and to control temperature and maintain safety.
“The delivery of these life-saving vaccines is a huge and complex task, given the sheer volume that has to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the variety of routes” said Etleva Cadelli, UNICEF Supply Director.
The air cargo will form a global supply chain for potential human health crises 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 81,200 doses. Bolivia also received 92,430 doses of the Pfizer-Biotech vaccine.