UAE company helps to vaccinate 1.7 million people in Africa

Now Via Medica is teaming up with the Hope Consortium to ramp up the vaccination drive

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A UAE company is partnering with the Hope Consortium to help inoculate people in the UAE and Africa against Covid-19.

The vaccination programme already started in Africa in March through the Via Medica International Healthcare, a UAE company.

So far they have vaccinated 1.7 million people in Africa and the UAE.

The company is now expanding its operation in Africa to set up more vaccination centres, storage freezers and mobile vaccination clinics to reach remote areas.

“We have the capability to carry out operations in two to five countries at any given point in time,” sad Frank Ludick, chief executive of the company.

The Abu Dhabi-based Hope Consortium is also now planning to working with the company to boost vaccination numbers,

Abu Dhabi last year launched the global logistics centre to deliver billions of Covid-19 vaccine doses around the world by the end of next year.

The hub is being run by the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo, Abu Dhabi Ports Company, Rafed, part of ADQ, and SkyCell.

The Hope consortium can distribute up to six billion doses around the globe.

“This [figure] is going up to 18 billion by the end of next year,” said Dr Omar Najim, executive office director at the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi.

“So we have the biggest vaccination logistics centre in the region, and one of the largest globally.”

He said the main challenge facing countries around the world was transporting and storing vials at the right temperature.

Some Covid-19 vaccines, such as that of Pfizer-BioNTech, must be stored at a temperature of between minus 80ºC and minus 60ºC.

“Eighty per cent of the manufacturing of vaccines is happening in Europe and North America, but 80 per cent of the rest of the world lives outside of Europe, so the logistical challenge is huge,” Dr Najim said.

“We expect the demand will be increasing, but the problem with some countries in Africa was that they initially believed they have the capability to run the vaccination programmes by themselves,” Mr Ludick said.

But some governments soon realised they lacked the infrastructure for mass vaccination programmes.

“Expiry of vaccines is very critical. There have been millions of vaccines that have been returned to providers because they [governments] did not have the resources to preserve them,” he said.

“Governments cannot withdraw all their medical staff from the healthcare system to run the vaccination programme, so this is where our help comes in.”

The government of each country secures its own vaccine supply, and Hope Consortium provides them with the delivery solutions, and the end-to-end supply chain if needed.

“If they don’t have the means on the ground [to deliver the vaccines to the people], Via Medica comes in and we take care of the vaccination process from the time the aircraft arrives, until the person gets jabbed,” Mr Ludwick said.

Updated: August 17, 2021, 5:05 AM