UN News: Major airlines join forces with UNICEF to support ‘monumental’ COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan

The world’s leading airlines are backing a landmark UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) initiative to prioritize delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines and other critical supplies across the globe.

More than 10 airlines are signing agreements with the UN agency to support its ‘Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative’, which will also act as a global logistics preparedness mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises over the longer term.

“Delivery of these life-saving vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volumes that need to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the diversity of routes” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF Supply Division.

Protecting scores of people

Airlines covering routes to over 100 countries will support the COVAX Facility – the global effort aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Beginning this year and subject to all requirements being met and allocation plans finalized, 145 countries will receive doses to immunize an average of three per cent of their populations.

This is according to the COVAX facility’s first-round allocation plan.

In addition to prioritizing the shipments of life-saving supplies, the airlines will take measures, such as temperature control and security, while also adding freight capacity to routes, as needed.

UNICEF stressed that their commitments are essential to the “timely and secure delivery” of vaccines and critical supplies.

“Safe, timely and efficient transportation of life-saving supplies is critical to supporting access to essential services for children and families”, said UNICEF.

Moreover, COVAX deliveries and the subsequent vaccination of frontline workers will support health and social care systems to safely resume these critical services.

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