UAE – The Hope Consortium of Abu Dhabi will assist in the delivery of 65 ultra-cold freezers to Africa for the storage of Covid-19 vaccines.
The delivery was made possible by a multilateral agreement between the Abu Dhabi-based public-private partnership Hope Consortium and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) initiative’s efforts toward equitable global vaccine distribution.
The global logistics center will collaborate with Unicef to ensure that vaccines donated by the United States are safely delivered to the continent.
Some Covid-19 vaccines must be stored at temperatures as low as -80°C, and the donated freezers will allow African nations to store incoming donated vaccines efficiently. This will also help Africa achieve its goal of reaching 70 percent vaccine coverage by mid-2022.
The delivery demonstrates the HOPE Consortium’s dedication to contributing to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The freezers are critical to plans to deliver vaccines to 21 African countries, which must be kept at extremely low temperatures.
The countries that will receive assistance include Benin, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eswatini, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Sao Tome, and Zambia, thanks to HOPE Consortium partners and other logistics providers.
The consortium, comprised of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo, Abu Dhabi Ports, Maqta Gateway, Rafed, and SkyCell, was formed last year with the goal of distributing billions of vaccine doses worldwide.
The initiative is in line with the World Health Organization’s Covax project, which aims to immunize people all over the world against Covid-19.
The COVAX mission aims to ensure that vaccine supplies are distributed equitably to the world’s population.
Solving logistical challenges
However, many countries face logistical challenges in receiving and safely storing temperature-sensitive vaccine supplies. To that end, the 65 ultra-cold freezers are a necessary preparatory strategy to improve cold chain capabilities within recipient countries in advance of incoming vaccine deliveries requiring ultra-cold storage.
In a statement, Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, the assistant minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said that the country was committed to supporting countries faced with logistical and technical challenges associated with the large-scale delivery of vaccination programs.
“Our partnership with Unicef plays a vital role in helping implement an effective global response to Covid-19, particularly within Africa. We are proud to support international efforts such as Covax by dedicating the unique services of the Hope Consortium,” Al Shamsi said.
Etleva Kadilli, director of Unicef’s supply division, stated that the critical infrastructure would increase African countries’ capacity to increase Covid-19 vaccine rollouts as well as support the management of other vaccines that may require ultra-cold storage temperatures.
“These deliveries of ultra-cold freezers mark an important step towards equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines,” she said.
“Unicef is pleased to work with partners like the Hope Consortium to support governments to strengthen health systems for the Covid-19 response and beyond – making them resilient for the future.”
The consortium has developed vaccine supply chains with its partners that allow for the delivery of millions of vaccines from the point of manufacture to the point of immunization.
Furthermore, it has built a vaccine hub in Abu Dhabi that can store over 120 million vaccines at temperatures ranging from +8 °C to -30 °C at any time, as well as the UAE’s largest ‘Freezer Farm,’ which can store over 11 million vaccine doses at an ultra-cold temperature of -70 °C.
The HOPE Consortium brings together global leaders in logistics, technology, and supply chains in this major area of expertise.
According to the chairman of the Hope Consortium, Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Abu Dhabi’s strategic location as a medical and life sciences hub makes it a natural partner to support Covax’s global mission.
“Since no one is safe until everyone is safe, it is imperative to ensure that all nations across the world possess the capabilities required to store and administer a wide array of vaccines globally available,” Al Shamisi said.
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