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  • Cathay Pacific delivers first Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccines to Hong Kong and beyond

    Published on March 1, 2021

    Cathay Pacific has successfully delivered the first batch of Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccines to Hong Kong, drawing on its long-established expertise in pharmaceutical shipments under cold chain protocols to meet the handling demands of the Fosun Pharma/BioNTech product. The first delivery of the first batch of one million Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccines to be supplied to Hong Kong arrived from Frankfurt today and were unloaded as priority from a freighter flight to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal.

    Cathay Pacific Director Cargo Tom Owen said: “Different vaccines have differing requirements. The Fosun Pharma/BioNTech vaccine must be transported in a deep frozen state, which requires more complex transportation and storage solutions. Our Vaccine Solution has proven itself to be ideally suited to the fast and effective distribution of this and other vaccines across the globe, using our freighter and passenger fleet, and our extensive global network.”

    The Cathay Pacific shipments to date include the milestone import of the first vaccines for use in the airline’s home city of Hong Kong on 19 February. The one million doses of Sinovac vaccine were loaded inside six temperature-controlled Envirotainer RAP e2 containers, to maintain the vaccine temperature range of 2°C to 8°C, and carried in the belly hold of an Airbus A330 operating the scheduled passenger flight, CX391. Owen added: “This was also the first shipment to use our new Ultra Track service, a key part of our Vaccine Solution.”

    On the same flight, there were 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine destined for Mexico. The single Envirotainer RAP e2 container was towed to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal in a thermal dolly and transferred to a cool room set at 15°-25°C, where it was recharged ahead of its midnight flight to Mexico City via Anchorage on a Boeing 747-8F freighter on flight CX086. 

    Another shipment of 800,000 doses to Mexico will follow this week. Cathay Pacific had previously carried a CanSinoBIO vaccine shipment via Beijing and Hong Kong to Mexico earlier in February using the same equipment and schedule. The airline has already also transported a Fosun Pharma/BioNTech shipment to Penang on one of its freighters.

    So far, the Cathay Pacific Cargo Vaccine Solution has proven to offer the high levels of quality assurance demanded by these vital shipments. The introduction of the Vaccine Solution has included further training for warehouse and ramp staff for each specific vaccine, both in Hong Kong and the airports it serves.

    This level of dedication and expertise has been recognised not only by our customers, but also UNICEF, which named Cathay Pacific Cargo as one of the select airlines for its Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support COVAX, the global effort aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

    To increase links with the European vaccine production hub, Cathay Pacific Cargo is adding a further two Boeing 777 cargo-only flights to operate on the Pharma Corridor between the CEIV-certified airport communities of Brussels and Hong Kong each week.

    Ultra Track

    Cathay Pacific Cargo is continuing to roll out Ultra Track as a key part of its Vaccine Solution. The next-generation track-and-trace system monitors information including temperature, GPS location, and humidity, using low-energy Bluetooth readers. This gives shippers and forwarders near real time visibility, and ensures vaccines will remain within their transportation temperature ranges. Cathay Pacific Cargo will offer Ultra Track free of charge for vaccine shipments.

    Operations Control Centre

    Shipments using Ultra Track will be monitored by the newly established Operations Control Centre (OCC). Based in Hong Kong, and staffed by dedicated cargo professionals 24/7, the team can instruct ramp and cargo terminal staff to take proactive steps to ensure the various storage and handling requirements of vaccines are maintained.

    Pharmaceutical accreditations

    Cathay Pacific Cargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal and ground-handling subsidiary Hong Kong Airport Services (HAS) have all been re-certified for CEIV Pharma, offering a complete level of quality assurance at every stage of the import and transshipment journey at Hong Kong International Airport.

    Cathay Pacific Cargo is also a member of the Pharma.Aero alliance, and operates a Pharma Corridor between the CEIV Pharma airport communities at Brussels and Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific Cargo will strengthen this link from early March 2021 with two additional Boeing 777 cargo-only flights each week.