Abu Dhabi leads Covid vaccine Hope Consortium

By Roger Hailey

Abu Dhabi is spearheading the launch of the Hope Consortium to facilitate Covid-19 vaccine distribution across the world, amid an anticipated surge in specialist pharma supply chain demand.

Comprising a membership of leading Abu Dhabi and global entities, the Hope Consortium represents a complete supply chain solution to address vaccine transport, demand planning, sourcing, training, and digital technology infrastructure, and facilitate vaccine availability across the world, said a spokesperson.

UAE’s national carrier Etihad Cargo and other Hope Consortium members transported five million vaccines in November on behalf of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health which is leading the consortium and will oversee regulatory compliance, full chain expertise and scientific insight.

The consortium also includes Abu Dhabi Ports Group, Rafed, the healthcare purchasing arm of Abu Dhabi-based ADQ, and Switzerland’s SkyCell, which develops temperature-controlled containers for the pharmaceutical industry.

SkyCell will establish a regional service and manufacturing centre in Abu Dhabi. 

The Hope Consortium has pooled its collective expertise to provide multi-faceted logistics services to handle more than six billion doses of the vaccines being developed and manufactured around the world.

The capability can handle single or multi doses – in cold and ultra-cold conditions in 2021 – with the number of doses rising threefold by the end of next year – the largest capacity and logistics capability regionally and one of the largest globally.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, chair of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said: “The Hope Consortium is a prime example of how Abu Dhabi is leading in providing solutions, capabilities and capacities to help the world get through this global pandemic.

“It is a continuation of all players’ collaboration of a UAE-based public-private partnership that spans the globe. While assuring vaccine supply to the domestic market, the Hope Consortium will offer international governments, non-governmental organisations, and vaccine suppliers a cohesive solution across every supply chain step – from air freight, regional storage and temperature monitoring, to inventory management, cold and ultra-cold container solution, regulatory clearance, and healthcare and pharma quality assurance.”

Sheikh Al Hamed added: “Developing a vaccine is only the first step in getting to a solution, getting that vaccine to the whole globe, while maintaining a robust integrity of temperature is an equal challenge by itself, the Hope Consortium will provide that solution on the highest level of quality.

“Consortium partners already have extensive expertise in the global delivery of millions of Covid-19 related items, such as personal protective equipment, diagnostics consumables, vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

“As we progress talks with vaccine manufacturers to apprise them of our global distribution capabilities, the Hope Consortium will harness the united expertise of various Abu Dhabi and UAE stakeholders to provide a fully-fledged, end-to-end solution specifically for Covid vaccine distribution needs.”

Distribution of the vaccines, which will be stored in Abu Dhabi Ports Company facilities, will be carried out by Etihad Cargo, the first Middle Eastern carrier to gain IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification for pharmaceutical logistics.

The carrier will leverage its extensive intercontinental network, fleet and charter flights to supply vaccines globally.

Explained Tony Douglas, group chief executive at Etihad Aviation Group: “With two thirds of the world’s human footprint within a four-hour flight of Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital’s investment in technological expertise and world-class infrastructure facilities means we can serve as a global logistical hub to, and for, the world.

“Etihad Cargo’s role in the consortium will leverage our outstanding pharmaceutical logistics expertise and specialised pharma and healthcare service, PharmaLife, the IATA CEIV Pharma certified product capable of facilitating temperature-sensitive cargo between 25⁰C and -80⁰C.”

Douglas continued: “Our network reach across key destinations will be supported by the utilisation of our charter operations to meet global demand for swift and secure Covid-19 vaccine shipments.

“We are already managing all anticipated shipment elements through our dedicated Covid-19 vaccines workforce.

“A dedicated pharmaceutical handling facility to accommodate increased capacity at our Abu Dhabi hub is also currently under review, as well as additional thermal covers and enhanced capabilities at origin stations based on established pharma trade lanes and specific requests.”

As part of the Hope Consortium, Abu Dhabi Ports will leverage its capabilities as an innovation epicentre serving the Middle East and wider world through Abu Dhabi as a supply chain gateway connecting East and West.

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