Abu Dhabi launches Hope Consortium hub to distribute COVID-19 vaccines


Abu Dhabi is launching a global logistics hub called the Hope Consortium to facilitate the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The alliance represents a complete supply chain solution to address transport, planning, sourcing, training and digital technology infrastructure to facilitate availability across the world.

The Consortium's member Etihad Cargo, and its partners in the coalition, have transported five million vaccines during November on behalf of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi.

The Department is spearheading the group and will oversee regulatory compliance, full chain expertise and scientific insight.

The Consortium includes Abu Dhabi Ports Group, Rafed, the healthcare purchasing arm of Abu Dhabi-based ADQ, and Switzerland’s award-winning SkyCell.

The Swiss group makes next-generation, temperature-controlled logistics containers for the pharmaceutical industry and will establish a regional service and manufacturing centre in Abu Dhabi.

The Consortium intends to transport the vaccines using SkyCell’s hybrid containers.

The storage and transportation containers are secured through an IoT monitoring service which tracks temperature conditions to ensure sensitive vaccines are protected even under extreme conditions.

With efficient insulation and cutting-edge cooling technology, the containers maintain steady temperatures for an average of 202 hours (8.4 days) and self-recharge automatically in a cooling chamber or reefer truck.

The Hope Consortium has pooled its collective expertise to provide logistics services to handle more than six billion doses from the vaccines being developed and manufactured around the world.

This includes single or multi doses, in cold and ultra-cold conditions in 2021, rising to over three times more doses by the end of next year.

The Consortium will have the largest capacity and logistics capability regionally, and one of the largest globally.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi said, "The Hope Consortium is a prime example of how Abu Dhabi is leading in providing solutions, capabilities and capacities to help the world get through this global pandemic... While assuring vaccine supply to the domestic market, the Hope Consortium will offer international governments, non-governmental organisations, and vaccine suppliers a cohesive solution across every supply chain step – from air freight, regional storage and temperature monitoring, to inventory management, cold and ultra-cold container solution, regulatory clearance, and healthcare and pharma quality assurance."

Distribution of the vaccines, which will be stored in Abu Dhabi Ports Company facilities, will be carried out by Etihad Cargo, the first Middle Eastern carrier to gain IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification for pharmaceutical logistics.

The UAE’s national carrier will leverage its extensive intercontinental network, fleet and charter flights to supply vaccines globally.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group said: "With two-thirds of the world’s human footprint within a four-hour flight of Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital’s investment in technological expertise and world-class infrastructure facilities means we can serve as a global logistical hub to, and for, the world."

Douglas noted that "Etihad Cargo’s role in the consortium will leverage our outstanding pharmaceutical logistics expertise and specialised pharma and healthcare service, PharmaLife, the IATA CEIV Pharma certified product capable of facilitating temperature-sensitive cargo between +25⁰C and -80⁰C. Our network reach across key destinations will be supported by the utilisation of our charter operations to meet global demand for swift and secure COVID-19 vaccine shipments."

Douglas added "A dedicated pharmaceutical handling facility to accommodate increased capacity at our Abu Dhabi hub is also currently under review, as well as additional thermal covers and enhanced capabilities at origin stations based on established pharma trade lanes and specific requests."

As part of the Hope Consortium, Abu Dhabi Ports, which has the Middle East’s largest capacities for cold chain and ultra-cold storage, will leverage its capabilities as an innovation epicentre serving the Middle East and wider world through Abu Dhabi as a supply chain gateway connecting East and West.

"This collaboration is in line with our ethos of creating innovative ideas, concepts, solutions and opportunities," said Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Group CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports.

"Abu Dhabi Ports plays a key role in supporting the Abu Dhabi vision in advancing logistic services in the emirate and leading the post-COVID-19 revival and economic recovery through robust partnerships. Our expansive operations at KIZAD are among the largest cold chain and ultra-cold storing in the region and enable us to support the emirate’s drive to spearhead global immunisation efforts that will positively impact millions of lives."

The Consortium will also be looking to partner with more players and stakeholders.


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