8,000 Boeing 747 will be needed to transport Covid-19 vaccines around the world

It will take a total of 8,000 Boeing 747 freighters to transport the highly in-demand Covid-19 vaccine to different countries, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

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This equates to single shot vaccines to 7.8 billion people.

Hence, the IATA is now urging governments, airlines, and stakeholders, to begin planning for its "mission" to transport the vaccines once they are made available to the public. According to the IATA, air cargo plays a key role in the distribution of vaccines in normal times through well-established global time- and temperature-sensitive distribution systems. This capability will be crucial to the quick and efficient transport and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they are available, and it will not happen without careful planning, led by governments and supported by industry stakeholders.

IATA director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said, "Safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won’t happen without careful advance planning. And the time for that is now. We urge governments to take the lead in facilitating cooperation across the logistics chain so that the facilities, security arrangements and border processes are ready for the mammoth and complex task ahead."

“Delivering billions of doses of vaccine to the entire world efficiently will involve hugely complex logistical and programmatic obstacles all the way along the supply chain. We look forward to working together with government, vaccine manufacturers and logistical partners to ensure an efficient global roll-out of a safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Vaccines are not normal cargo, hence, they have to be handled with utmost care in line with international regulatory requirements and without a single delay to ensure the quality of the product. This includes temperature-controlled  facilities and equipment, availability of staff trained to handle time and temperature-sensitive vaccines, and robust monitoring facilities and equipment to ensure that the integrity of the vaccines are maintained.

Passenger aircraft being used to transport all-cargo

As a result of the plummet in air travel demand due to the pandemic, many airlines worldwide were pushed to convert some of their passenger aircraft to freighters, transporting essential supplies and medical equipment needed.

Some airlines would use the passenger cabin also as a cargo hold. They would cover the seats very well and secure all items.

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