Coronavirus: Emirates airline to work with Pfizer to roll out Covid-19 vaccine

Emirates airline president Tim Clark says aviation industry is braced for the complex task of distributing vaccines

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Emirates airline is to partner with global pharmaceutical producer Pfizer to help navigate the challenges of distributing its Covid-19 vaccine.

Emirates president Tim Clark said in an interview with CNBC that the aviation industry is working on establishing the most efficient way to deliver crucial vaccines to the market, once approved.

He said the airline is working closely with Pfizer to develop methods to transport the vaccine.

Last week, drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech announced their coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective.

The findings – yet to be peer reviewed – appear to exceed expectations, with reports suggesting that experts thought vaccines would be nearer to 60 per cent or 70 per cent effective.

The data comes from Phase 3 clinical trials, which are continuing.

"The industry is trying to establish best practice involving the third-party supply chain and this logistical exercise, to ensure we get them [vaccines] to the markets that need them so badly, and basically that's the whole planet," Mr Clark told CNBC on Sunday.

“The logistics of distribution of this vaccine of this nature, given the conditions under which it has to be shipped – it’s going to be a challenge for the industry.

“We’re working on trying to move this Pfizer vaccine in specially designed containers on our planes, in our holds, and in the cabins, and keeping them at that level through the distribution point,” Mr Clark said.

Emirates President Tim Clark admits distributing Covid-19 vaccines will represent a logistical challenge. The National
Emirates President Tim Clark admits distributing Covid-19 vaccines will represent a logistical challenge. The National

Mr Clark said there was a unified desire to get vaccines distributed across the world.

A key consideration in the complex process is the fact the vaccine needs to be kept at a temperature between minus 70°C and minus 80°C.

Should the vaccine receive approval for widespread use, a maximum of about 50 million doses would be available this year, with capacity for 1.3 billion more to be manufactured in 2021, according to Pfizer and BioNTech, its German pharmaceutical company trial partner.

While reports indicate the vaccine may cause side effects, such as aches and fever, these are not thought to be worse than what is often seen with other vaccines.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is one of 11 around the world in Phase 3 clinical trials, which involve thousands of participants, as well as testing for effectiveness and potentially harmful side effects.

In an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Prof Ugur Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech, predicted the coming winter would still be problematic, but the effects of the new drug would have an early and increasingly positive effect.