Alibaba's logistics arm Cainiao Global has established the country's first cross-border cold chain route with Ethiopian Airlines, ready for the future shipment of COVID-19 related drugs and vaccines.
The route, featuring an ultra-low temperature, is expected to help distribute coronavirus vaccines to parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin American, according to the company statement released on Wednesday.
The company said drugs and vaccines could be stored in a controlled temperature environment as low as minus 23 degrees Celsius. Cargos then will be transported from Shenzhen to Africa on a weekly basis and forwarded to other countries via Addis Ababa and Dubai.
As leading drugmakers are close to COVID-19 vaccines, the world will need cold chain logistics to support their distribution on a scale never seen before.
Chinese stakeholders involved in the supply chain are stepping up readiness for the vaccines' eventual global distribution upon approval.
The country's another logistics giant SF Express has been working with suppliers to help deliver vaccine candidates and semi-finished items at home and abroad, as China export and import them for clinical trials.
SF says it has prepared over 200 specialized vehicles for transporting cold chain medical products to 11 cities across the country, as well as cutting-edge temperature control boxes for the COVID-19 vaccines.
The transportation of much-anticipated vaccines requires unprecedented strict conditions – delivery within a tight time frame, at the right temperatures throughout, and to destinations all over the world. Domestic cold chain equipment manufacturers are working on more tailor-made products to meet new demands.
China International Marine Containers, a Shenzhen-based logistc supplier, recently announced a new vaccine shelter. Xia Ye, a project manager of CIMC, told CGTN the shelter is tailored for vaccines transported long distances in different ways. It can avoid power-outages, pressure changes, and especially, coronavirus contamination.
China has exceeded many countries in cold-chain transport capacity of drugs in the past five years, according to Qin Yuming, secretary-general of Cold Chain Logistics Committee under China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing.
However, COVID-19 vaccines and drug transportation is a different and complicated new field, which requires involvement and regulations from multiple parties.
As cold chain logistics become a new hotbed for the coronavirus domestically, China has tightened measures to prevent virus transmissions from imported cold-chain products.
All products without inspection and quarantine certificates, nucleic acid test reports, disinfection certificates, and traceability information will be banned from entering the market, the State Administration for Market Regulation said Wednesday.