Dubai is to become a centre for the international distribution of coronavirus vaccines after the launch of a major air, land and sea campaign to combat the pandemic.
Under the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate has established the Vaccine Logistics Alliance to distribute the vaccine more quickly and efficiently.
The project will support the World Health Organisation's effort to deliver two billion doses of vaccine in 2021.
Dubai's Vaccine Logistics Alliance will bring together Emirates airline, DP World's global network of ports and logistic operations alongside Dubai Airports and International Humanitarian City.
An important part of the campaign will be reaching some of the populations hardest hit by the pandemic, often in regions where importing and distributing pharmaceutical goods is difficult.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman of Dubai Airports and chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group, said the move to combine expertise will help answer the pressing concern of how to deliver vaccines as far and wide as possible.
"We stand at the cusp of a historic moment with the rollout of vaccines for countering Covid-19, a pandemic that has disrupted the lives of people around the world," he said.
“The UAE is leading the world in terms of rolling out the vaccine, and in line with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision to facilitate a global solution for the wellbeing of communities, the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance brings together key organisations to expedite the worldwide transport of urgently needed vaccines through Dubai.”
The merging of resources will allow Dubai to store large volumes of vaccine at any given time and bring in and distribute vaccines to any point within 48 hours.
Emirates SkyCargo will play a significant role in ensuring temperature-sensitive vaccines are transported safely to where they are needed most.
It has more than 15,000 square metres of cool-chain space – for the storage of cargo that must be refrigerated – for pharmaceuticals across its terminals in Dubai. It has transported vaccine doses since December.
International Humanitarian City in Dubai, the world's largest centre for humanitarian logistics, will be a vital partner in the alliance.
The formation of the alliance comes after DP World and Unicef announced a partnership to support the delivery of vaccines to lower-income nations.
The newly formed alliance is the latest UAE-led project aimed at supporting the mammoth task of delivering vaccines.
Earlier this month, Dubai Airports and GMR Hyderabad Airports in India launched an air corridor to handle up to 300 tonnes of vaccines a day.
The corridor connects major vaccine manufacturers in India with markets around the world through Dubai.
In November, Abu Dhabi set up a global logistics centre to deliver billions of coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
The Hope Consortium provides vaccine storage and distribution.
The hub is being run by the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo, Abu Dhabi Ports Company, Rafed – part of ADQ – and SkyCell.