UAE – Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Cargo has signed an agreement with B Medical Systems, a Luxembourg-based manufacturer and global distributor of medical refrigeration devices, to develop a solution specifically for the air transportation of life-saving drugs, vaccines, and high-value pharmaceuticals.

B Medical Systems’ existing portfolio includes products that use solar energy as well as green refrigerants.

The MoU was announced during the BIO International Convention being held in San Diego – USA, from June 13-16, 2022, according to a statement from Etihad Cargo.

Etihad Cargo will become the first airline globally to develop and launch sustainable, temperature-controlled containers for the transportation of pharmaceuticals and life sciences, the statement added.

The project’s goal is to develop passive temperature-controlled containers capable of maintaining temperatures between -80 and +25 degrees Celsius for up to five days without the use of an external power source, thereby lowering carbon emissions.

Because of their robust, multifunctional design, the units with capacities ranging from 2 to 1,500 liters will have an operational life of more than 10 years.

Trials of the sustainable container units will commence shortly, with a launch date to be announced once they are completed successfully.

Martin Drew, Etihad Aviation Group’s senior vice president – sales and cargo said, “While the aviation sector only accounts for four percent of global carbon emission today, if the sector continues to grow at its current pace, it could account for up to 25% of emissions by 2050. This is why it is so important for the sector to invest in more sustainable solutions for its customers.

By replacing legacy active cold chain air transportation containers with aviation-specific units that consume less energy, Etihad Cargo is future-proofing the transportation of pharmaceuticals, providing a better solution for Etihad Cargo’s customers, the aviation industry and the environment.”

The project’s goal is to develop passive temperature-controlled containers capable of maintaining temperatures between -80 and +25 degrees Celsius for up to five days without the use of an external power source, thereby lowering carbon emissions.

Etihad Cargo is the first airline in the world to collaborate with a partner in the development and launch of units specifically tailored to air transportation, according to Martin Drew.

Abu Dhabi established the HOPE Consortium in 2020 under the leadership of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, with participation from Etihad Cargo and other key partners in the Emirate, to provide one of the most capable and effective vaccine supply chains in the world.

The HOPE Consortium has distributed and transported over 260 million vaccines to 60 countries since its inception.

Recently, Abu Dhabi has bolstered its capabilities as a life sciences hub through a pharmaceutical collaboration with Belgium, a leading global pharmaceutical hub, establishing a global distribution corridor between Abu Dhabi and Brussels to serve the world in vaccine delivery and future life science needs.

In 2019, Etihad Cargo became the Middle East’s first carrier to be awarded IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification for pharmaceutical logistics.

Global healthcare cold chain logistics market size

The global healthcare cold chain logistics market reached a value of US$16.5 billion in 2021. Looking forward, the market is projected to reach US$20.3 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 3.4% during 2022-2027, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.

Currently, there is an increase in the use of healthcare cold chain logistics to preserve healthcare products all over the world.

This, along with the expanding pharmaceutical industry, is one of the primary drivers of the market. Furthermore, there is an increase in the need for proper drug storage and transportation in the healthcare sector without reducing drug efficiency.

This, combined with several advantages provided by healthcare cold chain logistics, such as seamless integration of activities during transportation and delivery, is propelling market growth.

Furthermore, the rising demand for biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, and clinical trial materials as a result of the increasing prevalence of various diseases is positively influencing the market.

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