Abu Dhabi's Hope Consortium trebles ultra-cold vaccine storage units

The 32 new freezers housed by the logistics hub can store vials of vaccines that must be kept ultra-cold

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Abu Dhabi’s Hope Consortium expanded a vast freezer farm set up to store Covid-19 vaccines at ultra-cold temperatures.

Abu Dhabi Ports took delivery of an additional 32 ultra-cold freezers at its 19,000-square-metre cold and ultra-cold storage facility in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, raising the number of units to 53.

The massive warehouse was already central to the mission of the Hope Consortium, an industry collective established to transport Covid-19 vaccines around the globe.

Other members of the task force include the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo and SkyCell, the Swiss company that makes the freezers.

The additions boost the centre’s ultra-cold storage capacity, which keeps vials at minus 80°C, from four million to 11.4 million doses.

This allows the consortium to distribute vaccines that must be stored at a very low temperature.

The Hope Consortium aims to deliver billions of Covid-19 vaccine doses around the world by the end of the year.

“Abu Dhabi stands at the threshold of achieving a truly historic accomplishment by enabling the global immunisation of billions of people through a fully integrated supply chain solution that melds leading-edge technology with strategic foresight,” said Capt Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, group chief executive of Abu Dhabi Ports and chairman of the consortium’s executive committee.

“By delivering well-planned logistics solutions hand in hand with a diversified vaccine supply chain, Abu Dhabi is ensuring a smooth flow of life-saving vaccines around the world to those who need them most.”

The freezer farm complements the facility’s existing capacity to store more than 120 million vaccine vials at a temperature of between 2°C and 8°C.

It has the space to store 11,000 pallets of equipment, such as syringes, that is used to administer the vaccines.

“Abu Dhabi Ports’ decision to develop the UAE’s largest freezer farm late last summer was a bold move that has proven to be highly perceptive,” said Robert Sutton, head of the logistics cluster for Abu Dhabi Ports.

“With greater vaccine supplies coming on stream, the Hope Consortium is in a timely position to meet the expected surge in demand by having the largest regional capacity to store and distribute extensive quantities of vaccines across all temperature bands, especially at the ultra-cold temperature of minus 80°C.

The 32 new freezers will bring storage capacity for vaccines requiring ultra-cold temperatures to 11.4 million vials. Courtesy: Hope Consortium
The 32 new freezers will bring storage capacity for vaccines requiring ultra-cold temperatures to 11.4 million vials. Courtesy: Hope Consortium

“Thanks to forward planning and wise investment, along with the commitment of our Consortium partners, Abu Dhabi Ports is in prime position to deliver upon the promise of the Consortium in providing the hub as part of the global response to the pandemic.”

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, chairman of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, toured the Covid-19 vaccine storage warehouse this month.

He praised the role played by the UAE capital in the global fight against Covid-19.

“Abu Dhabi has proven its ability to overcome all challenges, beat the impossible and spread hope,” he said.

“Abu Dhabi did not stop at being one of the leading cities with [a] vaccinated population against Covid-19. It also actively contributed to the development of such vaccines, through being home to some of the largest clinical trials globally and now with one of the largest capacities globally to handle the specialised task of transport, storage and distribution of the much-needed vaccines worldwide.”