Alibaba logistics arm Cainiao to speed up Covid-19 vaccine shipments with China’s first cold chain air freight service

04-Dec-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, has announced that it is launching China’s first regular cross-border medical cold chain route, which will be able to transport Covid-19 vaccines.

The route was established in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines and is expected to soon help distribute Covid-19 vaccines to parts of Africa, the Middle East and Latin American, the companies said in a statement released on Wednesday. The route is certified to transport temperature-controlled medicines, which will get two shipments a week out of Shenzhen Airport to Africa. They will be forwarded to the rest of the world via Addis Ababa and Dubai.

“Cainiao’s global logistics network spans over 200 countries and regions, providing end-to-end integrated logistics services, including digital customs clearance capabilities,” James Zhao, Cainiao’s global supply chain general manager, said in the statement. “The launch of the cold chain air freight has further bolstered our global logistics capabilities and allows us to offer a one-stop solution for the global distribution of medical products such as the Covid-19 vaccines.”

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The cold cabin where the medicine is stored, in addition to the Shenzhen Airport and the cargo terminal in Ethiopia, each have temperature control systems that monitor temperatures in real time, Cainiao said. The company added that they can handle temperatures as low as minus 23 degrees Celsius.

This makes the route cold enough for most temperature-controlled vaccines, and a Cainiao spokeswoman said it will be able to handle Covid-19 vaccines. However, this excludes vaccines that might require unusually cold temperatures, such as the recently announced Pfiser and BioNTech vaccine that must be stored at minus 70 degrees. More vaccine logistics solutions will be offered in the future, the spokeswoman said.

China’s logistics industry has played a significant role during the Covid-19 pandemic in supporting the transport of medical supplies, both in China and globally.

In January, Cainiao launched what it calls the Green Channel Initiative in response to surging demand for protective clothing and medical supplies. Cainiao said it has helped distribute 250 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 test kits to medical suppliers in more than 150 countries and regions.

The company also announced a new initiative in June for improving the efficiency of package delivery. The company plans to invest at least 1 billion yuan (US$152 million) over three years with the goal of delivering packages within 24 hours domestically and 72 hours globally.

As the world’s leading drug makers get closer to having Covid-19 vaccines approved for use, other Chinese logistics companies are also stepping up their readiness for global distribution.

Chinese shipping giant SF Express has been working with medical manufacturers to help import and export vaccine candidates as they undergo clinical trials, state-owned CGTN reported.


Category: China

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