Today marked a milestone moment for Ethiopia and its flag carrier. The country received 2.184 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing initiative. These doses were brought in by Ethiopian Airlines.
Getting the ball rolling
In December, Ethiopian Airlines struck a deal with Cainiao Network, which is the logistics branch of the Alibaba Group. This agreement formed an international cold chain from China for the supply of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines. Subsequently, temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals are being delivered twice a week from Shenzhen, China, to Africa and beyond, via hubs in Dubai, UAE, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Following this progress, millions of doses of the vaccine landed in Ethiopia today. Ethiopian Airlines shared the following about the delivery on its Twitter.
“We have transported and delivered the first batch of COVID-19 Vaccines to Ethiopia. The shipment has arrived today and delivered to the Ethiopian MoH in a ceremony held in our cargo terminal. We will keep on providing this mission-critical service to save lives”
We have transported and delivered the first batch of COVID-19 Vaccines to Ethiopia. The shipment has arrived today and delivered to the Ethiopian MoH in a ceremony held in our cargo terminal. We will keep on providing this mission-critical service to save lives. #FlyEthiopian pic.twitter.com/yx3XtNq0JR
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) March 7, 2021
A vital service
WHO Ethiopia also tweeted how the delivery was a landmark event. The group confirmed the product that arrived is the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It added that this move is a big step towards ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines amid the pandemic.
Landmark Event! #Ethiopia🇪🇹 has received the #AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccine via #COVAX. This is a big step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. @WHO @Gavi @CEPIvaccines @UNICEF @PMEthiopia @AbiyAhmedAli @WHOAFRO @FMoHealth pic.twitter.com/XvgXL4c0OX
— WHO Ethiopia (@WHOEthiopia) March 7, 2021
Today, Ethiopian Airlines’ leadership said that the company is prepared to take a lead role in transporting vaccines across the globe. The airline’s cargo division expects demand for these operations to last for up to three years.
Fitsum Abadi, the managing director of Ethiopian Cargo, told Reuters the following:
“We have aircrafts converted from passengers by removing their seats, 16 of them, which are very wide aircrafts converted to transport vaccines.”
Rising to the task
Altogether, Ethiopian’s cargo division has been scaling up services amid the global health crisis. Shipping has been a lifeline for carriers amid the severe downturn in passenger activity, and Ethiopian recognizes the potential.
The airline swirly adapting its operations amid the rise of new opportunities. Early on in the pandemic, the operator took seats out of 25 of its passenger planes to increase capacity for cargo. As the world becomes more reliant on the delivery of products, the carrier is prepared to take on the challenge.
Simple Flying reached out to Ethiopian Airlines for further comment on this landmark delivery this weekend. We will update the article with any further updates from the carrier.
Overall, what are your thoughts about Ethiopian Airlines delivering the first batches of the coronavirus vaccine in Ethiopia? Have you been following the progress of the carrier’s mission over the last year? Let us know what you think of the company’s activity in the comment section.