WFS prepares for Covid-19 vaccine with Project Coldstream

By Damian Brett

Cargo handler Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has launched Project Coldstream to co-ordinate its response to the anticipated global transportation of some 16bn doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

The project is headed by the firm’s executive vice president of innovation Mike Duffy, who will be supported by “senior operations, commercial and communications specialists”.

The group will be responsible for developing in-house solutions to the challenge, ensuring the preparedness of WFS’ pharma handling capability, devising plans for additional capacity where needed, and working closely with WFS’ airline customers.

They will work with airlines, forwarders and logistics providers, government agencies and industry organisations such as Pharma.Aero and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) to clearly understand temperature and handling requirements.

Barry Nassberg, WFS’ group chief commercial officer, said: “We are extremely proud to be playing a key role in the international response to Covid and the next big stage of this will be the rapid and safe distribution of vaccines once they are approved.

“WFS’ significant investment in dedicated facilities and training for pharma shipments means we are uniquely placed to meet the requirements of governments, the pharma industry and our customers. They can be assured of our robust support.”

The company pointed out that is has been investing in its temperature-controlled capabilities over the past two years.

WFS currently operates 12 dedicated pharma facilities in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Miami, New York JFK, and its €10 million state-of-the-art Pharma Centre at Paris CDG. These facilities are all either IATA CEIV or Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certified or compliant.

In accordance with demand, WFS said it will also ensure the preparedness of other key stations across its network spanning 175 airports in 20 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa.

Duffy added: “The world is waiting for a Covid vaccine to save lives and to support economic recovery. Over half of global vaccine doses are expected to be transported by air cargo because of its speed and reliability, dictated by global demand and the absence of local production facilities in some countries. We are part of an industry-wide solution which is mapping where vaccines are being produced to ensure rapid global vaccine trade flows. We will use all the capabilities we have to deliver and support a consistent and reliable end-to-end handling solution.”

IATA expects this to be the largest airlift of a single commodity ever, requiring the equivalent capacity of 8,000 747 aircraft.

WFS said the transportation of Covid vaccines is expected to commence by the end of 2020, reach its peak in the second half of 2021, and continue into 2022.

“Countries and trading blocs have already ordered over 5 bn doses and, already, some 65,000 tonnes of vaccine are forecast to require air cargo transportation, plus ancillary hardware and PPE which will be needed to administer it,” the handler said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 140 Covid-19 vaccines are in the initial stages of development globally, with around two dozen being tested on people in clinical trials.

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