Aviation body kicks off major security operations for transporting Covid-19 vaccine

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A hurdle for the distribution of the vaccine in Africa, is the drastic reduction in air connectivity on the continent.
A hurdle for the distribution of the vaccine in Africa, is the drastic reduction in air connectivity on the continent.
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  • The International Air Transport Association has spoken out about the need for cold-chain management for a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • It is kicking off huge programmes in terms of safety and security to ensure aviation in Africa will be ready to transport the vaccine.
  • Another hurdle for the distribution of the vaccine in Africa is the drastic reduction in air connectivity on the continent due to coronavirus lockdowns.


After a Covid-19 vaccine shipment leaves an airport or hub and until it reaches the hospital it is the responsibility of governments and they have to step up and make sure they have all the right logistics for the vaccine to be administered successfully to people in Africa.

This was the response of Muhammad Ali Albakri, regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to a question by Fin24 on his thoughts about securing the distribution chain, bearing in mind vaccines will become high-value targets for criminals.

"IATA has spoken about the need for cold-chain management for a vaccine. We are kicking off huge programmes in terms of safety and security to ensure aviation in Africa will be ready to transport the vaccine," he said.

"The distribution of the vaccine goes through various stages, and logistics are very important. Guidelines and recommendations have been published in this regard. IATA will continue to advocate collective work with governments to ensure the continuation of the supply chain."

Connectivity challenge

Another hurdle, also for the distribution of the vaccine in Africa, is the drastic reduction in air connectivity on the continent due to coronavirus lockdowns.

"We need to continue stressing the importance of connectivity within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. The coronavirus lockdowns have been devastating for connectivity in Africa," said Albakri.

"From 2014 to 2019, the trend in Africa was continued growth in its aviation industry year-on-year. Between April 2019 and April 2020 there was, however, a 94% loss in connectivity on the continent due to lockdowns. It was not the decision of airlines, but due to border restrictions and closures and the banning of air travel."

IATA has been very vocal over the last weeks, calling on governments to rather substitute quarantines with Covid-19 testing.

"We need to adapt a harmonised approach to have testing rather than quarantine used. We have seen that using quarantine is equal to closed borders. Connectivity is a must for Africa. Africa has always struggled with intra-Africa connectivity. We need to stress this and advocate for governments to remove all hurdles to take full advantage of the recovery situation," said Albakri.

"When you close borders and ban aviation, their income stops. There has been nothing like this in the history of aviation. It greatly impacts the bottom line for airlines. African airlines have done all possible to limit costs, so governments must help to prevent them from going under. We cannot afford to lose the connectivity we need for Africa to continue to prosper."

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