Cargo Airlines contribution in movements of COVID 19 Vaccine

Logistics providers are gearing up to provide the required infrastructure to maintain vaccine integrity. The logistics industry is preparing global vaccine shipments.

It is reported that manufacturers of vials, syringes and other required material suppliers of COVID -19 vaccines are also ramping up their capabilities. However, to ensure continuity of vaccine supply till the last mile, there is a dire need for a robust supply chain system. Therefore, logistic providers are enhancing their capabilities and making arrangements for an unbroken cold chain system required for the shipping of the vaccines. 

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, air cargo has been a vital partner in delivering much-needed medicines, medical equipment (including spare parts/repair components), and in keeping global supply chains functioning for the most time-sensitive materials. This has been done through dedicated cargo freighter operations, utilization of cargo capacity in passenger aircraft, and relief flights to affected areas. 

Pharmaceutical and life science products require stringent handling and transport conditions, or potentially the medicine loses its potency and may become ineffective. This
creates additional challenges within the current environment of limited air freight capacity and global connectivity resulting from the grounding of nearly two thirds of the passenger network.

In such times of crisis, business continuity and recovery plans are more important than ever. As the cancellation of 4.5 million passenger flights across all regions reduced international belly cargo capacity significantly, over 100 carriers have executed cargo operations by transforming passenger aircraft into cargo-only operations to address shipper’s connectivity needs. This allowed millions of tons worth of face masks, respirators, ventilators and other PPE as well as medical equipment and much needed medicines to be shipped around the world.

The airline industry faces unprecedented challenges resulting in significant logistical constraints affecting all stakeholders in the supply chain. Following the Covid-19 outbreak, we all hope to see effective vaccines developed and delivered. Today, there are some 80 potential Covid-19 vaccine research programmes underway around the world, and the airfreight industry must prepare for its critical role in responding to the need for efficient global delivery.

Handling and transporting vaccines bring another dimension to the supply chain logistics– it’s not just a box! Such high-value and sensitive products may not only require a temperature-controlled management environment but must also follow international regulatory requirements such as EU Good Distribution Practices, US Federal Drug Administration and WHO and IATA’s standards for temperature controlled sensitive products published in the Temperature Control Regulations (TCR).

Airfreight logistics plays a key role, to allow and facilitate future access to global vaccination programmes, but it will not be able to act alone. More than ever, the industry needs to invest in implementing an integrated multimodal transport solution as an enhanced business model to strengthen the network and the last mile delivery.

Access to and from airports and the improvement of land-based infrastructure are just
initial examples. Because of the lockdowns resulting from the Covid-19 crisis worldwide, government authorities have enacted restrictive measures that impact trade movements and IATA is advocating with the regulators as well as with the national and international entities to reduce any negative impact.

However, it is critical that countries continue to implement actions to facilitate and prioritize the movements of vital life science supplies without disrupting the supply chain. Otherwise, this will be detrimental to the public in the long run.

Working effectively with health and customs authorities will, therefore, be essential to ensure timely regulatory approvals, increased security measures, appropriate handling and customs clearance.


It is clear that as airports get ready to handle the volume of Covid-19 vaccine shipments, temperature-controlled container solution providers also have their foot on the accelerator to be ready for delivery. With the future yet uncertain, all the stakeholders have a huge task ahead but they have faith in their processes and are ready to take it head on and do their  test not only for profit but also to help the vaccine reach every last individual in the world.

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