Following the UAE’s multilateral in-kind contribution and commitment to UNICEF to support COVAX in its global vaccine distribution efforts, the HOPE Consortium and UNICEF have entered into an agreement to support delivery of 65 ultra-cold freezers to Africa. The freezers are necessary for COVID-19 vaccines requiring ultra-cold storage and to enable African nations to efficiently absorb incoming vaccine supplies recently donated by the United States of America.
In September 2021, as part of its continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa, the HOPE Consortium partnered with Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation, to offer vaccine distribution solutions to Africa. This highlights the HOPE Consortium’s efforts in reinforcing partnerships that focus on fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as fulfilling the organisation’s mission as a global logistics facilitator, by aiding in vaccine delivery.
As part of the partnership agreement, both entities will focus on intra-African cooperation to enhance vaccine distribution within the African continent. The HOPE Consortium will utilise Astral Aviation’s comprehensive network, technologies, and market expertise, to support its global objective of facilitating vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations.
Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and provides innovative, flexible, and cost-effective UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) integrated drone-based solutions, as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations.
The delivery of 65 ultra-cold freezers to Africa stands as a testament to the HOPE Consortium’s commitment to contribute to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilitated by HOPE Consortium partners and other logistics providers, the shipment will reach 21 African nations, including Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eswatini, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Sao Tome, and Zambia.
H.E. Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs, United Arab Emirates, said: “The UAE remains committed to doing our part to mitigate the effects of the pandemic by helping countries overcome the logistical and technical challenges associated with the delivery of large-scale vaccination programmes. Our partnership with UNICEF plays a vital role in helping implement an effective global response to COVID-19, particularly within Africa. We are proud to support international efforts such as COVAX by dedicating the unique services of the HOPE Consortium.”
The COVAX mission seeks to ensure that vaccine supplies are equitably distributed to the world’s population. However, many nations face logistical limitations in their capacity to receive and safely store the temperature-sensitive vaccine supplies. To that end, the 65 ultra-cold freezers are a necessary preparatory strategy to enhance cold chain capabilities within recipient countries in anticipation of incoming deliveries of vaccines requiring storage at ultra-cold temperatures.
Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division, said: “These deliveries of ultra-cold freezers mark an important step towards equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This critical infrastructure will boost the capacity of African countries to scale COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and will also support the management of other vaccines that may require ultra-cold storage temperatures. UNICEF is pleased to work with partners like the HOPE Consortium to support governments to strengthen health systems for the COVID-19 response and beyond – making them resilient for the future.”
Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Chairman of the Executive Committee, the HOPE Consortium, and Managing Director and Group CEO, AD Ports Group, stated: “Abu Dhabi’s strategic location as a medical and life sciences hub coupled with the HOPE Consortium’s ultra-cold chain capabilities make us a natural partner to support COVAX’s global mission. Since no one is safe until everyone is safe, it is imperative to ensure that all nations across the world possess the capabilities required to store and administer a wide array of vaccines globally available. By working with UNICEF, Etihad and our logistics partners together, we are committed to do our part in helping establish the necessary cold chain infrastructure needed to deliver hope and the necessary supplies to communities in need and help chart a path towards a lasting recovery.”
The HOPE Consortium, along with its partners, has developed one of the most extensive end-to-end vaccine supply chains, capable of delivering millions of vaccines from the point of manufacture to the point of immunisation in support of its global efforts against the pandemic. In addition, it has developed a vaccine hub in Abu Dhabi that can accommodate over 120 million vaccines at temperatures of +8 °C to -30 °C at any time, and hosts the UAE’s largest ‘Freezer Farm,’ which can store over 11 million vaccine doses requiring the ultra-cold temperature of -70 °C. This is a major area of expertise where the HOPE Consortium brings together global leaders in logistics, technology, and supply chains.