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Cathay ramps up vaccine storage capacity

written by Hannah Dowling | December 23, 2020
A Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-400F. (Andrew McLaughlin)

Cathay Pacific is expanding its cold storage facilities at its cargo terminal to allow it to temporarily house more than 8.6 million vaccine doses per day, as the global vaccine distribution challenge begins to ramp up.

The terminal’s current capacity is around 7.1 million doses, and a new cold storage room will be added to allow for a further 1.5 million doses to be stored, according to Cathay director cargo Tom Owen.

“We are the third-largest freight carrier in the world, and with our 20 dedicated freighters and cargo bellies of passenger aircraft supporting our extensive freighter network, we stand ready to assist with what will be the biggest humanitarian response to a situation involving civil aviation that anyone has ever seen,” Owen said.

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The Hong Kong-based airline has reportedly invested in a new generation track-and-trace system called Ultra Track, which allows freight forwarders to monitor the condition of vaccine shipment in real-time.

“We will be offering the service free of charge for any COVID-19 vaccine shipments from all of the vaccine manufacturing centres,” Owen said.

According to Cathay, the Ultra Track system uses a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter that can record and transmit GPS positions, temperature, vibration and humidity in real-time.

More than half of vaccines go to waste globally every year because of temperature control, logistics and shipment-related issues.

Airlines, already battling the COVID-19 pandemic, are now gearing up for the logistics mission of a lifetime – the global rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Most vaccines are required to be transported in strict and ultra-cold temperature conditions, making the mission that much more complicated.

Further, airlines and airports have been urged to remain on high alert during their vaccine distribution efforts, as vaccines have been flagged by global police bodies as a likely target for organised criminals.

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