IAG Cargo Hits 10m Vaccines Transported Milestone

IAG Cargo passed a significant milestone with its vaccination distribution effort as it revealed that it had carried over 10 million vaccines on its services to date. As the airline has none of its own cargo aircraft, the vaccines would’ve been carried in the hold of passenger jets, often while paying passengers were sat just above and unaware.

IAG Cargo, Vaccines, British Airways
IAG Cargo passed the 10 million vaccine milestone today. Photo: British Airways

Many developed nations have made considerable advances in their vaccination campaigns, with Britain having fully vaccinated over three-quarters of all adults. But vaccines aren’t just needed where they’re made, and airlines are required to ensure that everybody gets access, given the time-sensitive nature of delivery.

Over 10 million vaccines

IAG Cargo hit a significant milestone today as it reported that it had transported over ten million vaccines in the holds of its aircraft. That would be enough to fully vaccinate the population of Ireland with a two-dose vaccine or Hungary with a single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab.

In reality, the airline has been shipping vaccines to many countries on behalf of different partners. For instance, the airline sent four million of the jabs to Abuja in Nigeria. This shipment was part of the UNICEF COVAX initiative to spread the vaccine to all countries worldwide, including more impoverished nations. In July, these jabs were carried in the holds of two British Airways Boeing 777 aircraft departing London Heathrow.

IAG Cargo, Vaccines, British Airways
Iberia has carried over three million vaccines to date. Photo: Iberia

Meanwhile, IAG Cargo sent 300,000 of the vaccines to Jamaica. The British government donated these vaccines and thus also left the country onboard a British Airways Boeing 777-200 from London Heathrow. This was part of 20 million vaccines pledged to be delivered by the government directly to countries at the recent G7 summit. Another 80 million doses were also committed to the COVAX program. Meanwhile, Iberia has carried over three million doses.

How do you transport a vaccine?

Vaccines are incredibly temperature sensitive, with some needing to be transported at very low temperatures. Fortunately for IAG Cargo, it had plenty of experience shipping temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals long before COVID first appeared on the scene.

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Over 100 of the airports served by IAG Cargo have constant climate specialists. IAG Cargo can secure capacity on most routes operated by other IAG airlines such as British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus. This is actually why British Airways is operating the Boeing 787 on some shorter hops this month. This means that the airline has an excellent capacity to get cargo between many points globally, though a stop or two in Europe.

Many of the vaccines have been carried as part of the UNICEF COVAX scheme. Photo: Getty Images

Commenting on the milestone, Darren Peek, Head of Sales at IAG Cargo, said,

“We continue to support countries across the world on the fight against COVID-19. Last year we delivered over 20,000 tonnes of PPE and today we have delivered over 10 million COVID-19 vaccines… We will continue to work with a range of partners in the global response to COVID-19, supporting the efforts to ensure equal access to vaccines for all countries across the world.”

What do you make of IAG Cargo’s vaccine milestone? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below!