Kenya is rushing against time to have the national carrier included in the list of airlines that will transport coronavirus vaccines to different parts of the world when they become available.
This is after Unicef signed a deal with 10 airlines to help bridge the Covid-19 logistical nightmare.
Kenya Airways is conspicuously missing from the register, which includes some of the world’s biggest players like Etihad, Qatar Airways, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, United Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.
Apart from Ethiopian, Nairobi-based Astral Aviation is the only other African carrier on the list.
Early this month, Astral Aviation launched a Boeing 767 as it sought to expand its capacity in the cargo market. The firm operates in Africa and Europe.
The carrier announced last year that it was ready to begin distributing Covid-19 vaccines to more than 50 destinations.
"These airlines have signed agreements to support the prioritisation of delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, essential medicines, humanitarian supplies, medical devices and other critical goods to respond to the pandemic," Unicef said.
The UN agency is procuring and assisting in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines under the Covax Initiative to low and middle-income countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched Covax last year to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines across the world, regardless of the country’s economic status, in order to defeat the deadly virus.
WHO intends to distribute 1.8 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to at least 92 countries in 2021. As of February 15, the world had administered more than 175 million doses.The United States at 52 million), China (40 million), the United Kingdom (15 million) and India (eight million) are leading in terms of vaccine doses administered.This week, Kenya cleared its first Covid-19 vaccine – AstraZenecca – paving the way for its rollout soon.Nairobi expects 24 million doses of the vaccine next week, according to Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi."Delivery of these vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volumes that need to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the diversity of routes," Unicef Supply Division boss Etleve Kadilli said.The Unicef announcement came a week after Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia unveiled Kenya’s first "Preighter" in preparation for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and other cargo."The repurposing of Boeing 787 planes is a clear indication that there is demand for air cargo. This is an opportunity for local manufacturers to ramp […]