Chillers galore: How Covid-19 vaccines are stored in the UAE

Abu Dhabi - Khaleej Times had an exclusive tour of the facility, where two million Covid-19 vaccines are kept for distribution.


Ashwani Kumar

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Thu 17 Dec 2020, 7:35 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Dec 2020, 10:44 AM

While Abu Dhabi through the Hope Consortium is facilitating the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccine, Abu Dhabi Ports has been a core member in the mission with its advanced logistics capacity and capabilities. Abu Dhabi Ports with a 19,000-square metre temperature-controlled warehouse facility on 40,000 square metre plot in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) has the capacity to store and distribute 70 million vaccines.

Abu Dhabi Ports, which is part of the Hope Consortium, offered Khaleej Times an exclusive tour of the state-of-the-art facility, where the fresh stock of 2 million the Covid-19 vaccines have been kept for distribution.

The warehouse logistics is split into mainly three core areas. There is an eight-chamber cold storage maintained at 2 to 8 degrees for the Covid-19 vaccines, eight freezers at -80 degrees for ultra-cold vaccines and an air-conditioned area kept at 18 to 26 degrees for medical equipment like goods like personal protective equipment, syringes, hospital equipment, and medical supplies.

Capacity of 70m vaccines

Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, giving a guided tour of the facility and explaining the varied aspects, said: “We acquired this facility in early 2020. We were preparing it for the vaccines. We have the static capacity of more than 70 million vaccines which are maintained at the range of 2 to 8 degrees, and at -80 degrees when required.”

The warehouse has an overall capacity of nearly 40,000 pallets with the cold storage containing 25,000 pallets between zero and -26 degrees, and the air-conditioned chamber having 15,000 pallet capacity.

Historic effort underway

Sutton said Abu Dhabi Ports with a task of distributing billions of vaccines globally is a core participant in one of the largest supply chain efforts in the history of the world.

“This facility is one of the largest in the region, if not globally, catering to just vaccines and pharmaceutical supplies. One of the challenges that the Consortium is tackling is the movement of time and temperature sensitive products to multiple destinations around the globe, and ensuring that the vaccines are getting to where they are most needed. This facility was built and designed to meet these requirements.”

Hope Consortium and its partners, Sutton noted, are equipped to support the end-to-end supply chain that is critical to the movement of these products.

“We handle everything through the Consortium and are able to manage the whole end-to-end supply chain. This provides a single point of contact for vaccine suppliers across a broad range of services and covers multiple geographies. This is a team effort with multiple partners including Department of Health, Etihad Cargo, Rafed, SkyCell, and Abu Dhabi Ports coming together to make sure we are able to deliver this end-to-end solution.”

A hub for global needs

Abu Dhabi Ports’ logistics facility located in KIZAD, Sutton said, acts as a gateway for this critical programme.

“This is a global hub where we receive the materials and supplies from multiple sources. We store and distribute as required. If you look at where Abu Dhabi sits in terms of the geography, we are in a perfect position to reach the Mena region, reach back into Asia, and act as a hub between the East and the West. We are in a very good position to support the global battle against the pandemic.”

Air to road within 2 hours

The Consortium partners manage the first, middle and the final mile through different partnerships. Sutton said the end-to-end supply chain functions smoothly because of the enhanced logistics capabilities of the collective Consortium partners.

“Our first mile partners transfer the vaccines from their origin to the aircraft, where Etihad Cargo move them through their network of partners. Our team and Etihad work together to clear the cargo. We then use our logistics arm MICCO to move the vaccines on temperature-controlled vehicles to our facility. This happens usually within two hours of the arrival of the aircraft. The cargo is then moved to the facility and into our temperature-controlled storage area,” he said and added: “The work really starts now as the next phase of the programme is about delivering of the vaccines to the global community.”


Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT
Photo: Ryan Lim/KT

More news from