Dubai forms Vaccine Logistics Alliance to expedite global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines through the emirate to developing countries

Under the directives of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai today launched the Vaccine Logistics Alliance to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world through the emirate.

In support of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) COVAX initiative and its efforts to equitably distribute two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, the Dubai Vaccines Logistics Alliance combines the expertise and global reach of Emirates airline with DP World’s worldwide network of ports and logistics operations, along with the infrastructure of Dubai Airports and International Humanitarian City to distribute vaccines worldwide. The distribution will particularly focus on emerging markets, where populations have been hard-hit by the pandemic, and pharmaceutical transport and logistics are challenging.

The alliance is working with a broader set of stakeholders including pharmaceutical manufacturers, forwarders, government agencies and other entities for transportation of vaccines.

Watch an introductory video about the alliance here.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group said: “We currently stand at the cusp of a historic moment with the rollout of vaccines for countering COVID-19, a pandemic that has disrupted the lives of people around the world. The UAE is leading the world in terms of rolling out the vaccine, and in line with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision to facilitate a global solution for the wellbeing of communities, the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance brings together key organisations to expedite the worldwide transport of urgently needed vaccines through Dubai.

Sheikh Ahmed added: “Each alliance partner brings to the table a specific and complementary set of strengths and capabilities in vaccine distribution, allowing us to build a 360-degree solution that harnesses the combined logistical and infrastructural advantages of Dubai as a hub. Together, we are able to store a large volume of vaccine doses at a time and bring in and distribute vaccines to any point around the world within 48 hours.”

International Humanitarian City, the world’s largest hub for humanitarian logistics based in Dubai will be a vital partner in the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance bringing its vast expertise in humanitarian logistics for aid materials such as food and medicine in markets with limited infrastructure. IHC and Emirates SkyCargo have already partnered on many humanitarian cargo flights and earlier in 2020, also signed an MoU for closer collaboration for humanitarian assistance flights.

HE Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, the Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of International Humanitarian City, said: “Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, International Humanitarian City, based in Dubai, has evolved to become the largest humanitarian hub in the world, playing a pivotal role in facilitating first responses to humanitarian crises across the globe. Since the current global crisis began, the IHC has facilitated the distribution of over 80% of the WHO’s global medical response in the fight against COVID-19.”

“Dubai will make sure this fight continues with the Vaccine Logistics Alliance transporting urgently needed vaccines and medical supplies to the most vulnerable communities across the world, when they need it most. We are all responsible for doing what we can to end this pandemic.”

DP World, a leader in global supply chain solutions with ports, terminals and logistics operations on every continent, is joining Dubai’s initiative to transport, store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. DP World logistics operations will facilitate the collection of vaccines from manufacturing sites in places like Europe, the US and India and deliver them to airports, seaports and dryports for onward transportation. DP World’s global, GDP-compliant, network of warehousing and distribution hubs will be used to store vaccines for time and temperature sensitive distribution to hospitals and clinics. DP World will deploy its track-and-trace technology, such as Cargoes Flow, to give real-time information on the location of shipments, and continual temperature control and monitoring. DP World’s ports and terminals, including Jebel Ali in Dubai which is one the largest in the world, will be used to ship, store and distribute medical devices, such as syringes and wipes.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World, said: “Humanity will only defeat coronavirus if vaccines can be distributed everywhere. Dubai’s position as a global hub means we have a responsibility to combine our infrastructure and capabilities for this common goal. DP World has kept trade flowing throughout the pandemic ensuring countries received the vital supplies they need. We are proud to use our ports, terminals and smart logistics operations to distribute vaccines and medical devices to contribute to fighting the pandemic.”

On Wednesday, DP World and UNICEF also announced a wide-ranging partnership to support the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and related immunisation supplies in low- and lower-middle-income countries. The new partnership – with a multi-million dollar value – is the largest to date to support UNICEF’s lead role in procuring and supplying 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines and auxiliary vaccination supplies on behalf of the COVAX Facility.

Emirates SkyCargo is a global leader in the air transportation of temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals, including vaccines. The air cargo carrier has over two decades of experience in transporting pharmaceuticals across the world and has developed extensive infrastructure and capabilities for the secure and rapid transportation of temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals.

“Emirates SkyCargo has taken a global leadership position during the COVID-19 pandemic for the distribution of medical supplies and PPE. We recently activated the world’s largest airside hub dedicated to the storage and global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at Dubai South. With our modern wide-body aircraft fleet, our network reaching more than 135 cities across six continents including major pharma hubs, and our expertise in handling pharma shipments, we are well placed to work with our partners in the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance in order to make sure that the COVID-19 vaccines are reaching every corner of the globe, especially cities in emerging markets,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.

Emirates SkyCargo has over 15,000 square metres of cool chain space for pharmaceuticals across its terminals in Dubai and has already had a head start for COVID-19 vaccine logistics, having already moved COVID-19 vaccines on its flights during the month of December.

Dubai Airports, operator of Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC), will be contributing to the efforts of the newly formed Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance by providing additional space at dedicated facilities at Dubai International (DXB). The repurposed cargo facilities will act as storage for COVID-19 vaccines that will be transported through its interlinked operations at DXB and DWC. Working closely with Emirates SkyCargo and Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Airports will ensure that the additional capacity for vaccine storage meets all the stringent regulatory guidelines for transportation of COVID-19 vaccines, and that related processes are streamlined with stakeholders and business partners.

CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, said; “Dubai’s central location means it is easily accessible to almost 80% of the world’s population within just four hours, making the decision to join forces and develop the world’s preeminent distribution hub a very strategic one. Over the coming months, there will undoubtedly be a major surge in demand for the efficient, safe and reliable global distribution of high volumes of COVID-19 vaccines, and we wanted to be ready to respond to and accommodate that demand. This alliance is timed perfectly and will not only support a global need, but also support the future of travel.”