Alibaba’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network announced last Sunday the opening of an airway in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to facilitate the export of pharmaceuticals requiring temperature-controlled storage, such as vaccines against Covid-19. This partnership is the first of its kind between China and Africa. It represents the latest efforts by Chinese authorities and private companies to help Africa and the rest of the world fight the pandemic.
With two flights per week, cargo flights of the Boeing 777 dubbed “Cainiao” are scheduled from Shenzhen Airport in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia via Dubai. According to the press release issued by Cainiao, the entire aircraft can be used for cold chain distribution, with containers that can carry pharmaceuticals that need to be stored at temperatures up to – 20 ° C.
Tekle G / Yohannes, the airline’s official for China, said Ethiopian Airlines was preparing to deliver vaccines against Covid-19. A 54,000 m2 warehouse, refrigerated storage infrastructure between – 23 ° C and – 25 ° C for pharmaceutical products, as well as refrigerated shuttles have been set up in consolidation and unbundling centers in Addis Ababa , to ensure that pharmaceutical products – especially vaccines – can be transported and stored there, despite the high temperatures on the African continent.
With the success of scientific efforts to develop vaccines against Covid-19 in both China and the United States, countries will face the challenge of meeting stringent cross-border transport requirements respecting the cold chain. The mRNA-1273 vaccine from Moderna against the new coronavirus, for example, must be stored and transported at – 20 ° C, while the vaccine from Pfizer requires a temperature of – 70 ° C.
As Chinese refrigerated storage equipment manufacturers scramble to fill international orders, the aviation industry has also entered a race against time to prepare for the transport of Covid-19 vaccines.
Wang Ziqiao, an official at COSCO Shipping Air Freight, told a conference last Monday in Chengdu, southwestern Sichuan Province, that his company had contacted manufacturers of air freighters in advance. ‘cold chain transport equipment to provide a wide variety of solutions to its customers, while actively accelerating cooperation with Chinese and foreign airlines, to prevent shortages in transport capacity.
In order to prevent developing countries from falling behind in this race to obtain future vaccines against Covid-19, China has announced that it will ensure the supply of vaccines to African countries, the BRICS as well as the countries of the Mekong.