The global aviation industry says now is the time to begin planning “the mission of the century”: delivering a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to billions of people in some of the most remote parts of the world.
The International Air Transport Association said in a statement Thursday that shipping a single dose of the vaccine to 7.8 billion people will require the use of the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 cargo aircraft.
IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said such an undertaking “will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won't happen without careful advance planning.”
“We urge governments to take the lead in facilitating cooperation across the logistics chain so that the facilities, security arrangements and border processes are ready for the mammoth and complex task ahead,” de Juniac said.
The multinational effort to develop and produce a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, which as now killed over 900,000 people around the world out of a total of 27.8 million cases, received a setback this week when British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca suspended its final global trials of its experimental vaccine after a volunteer participant became ill.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the volunteer, based in Britain, was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections. But The Times said it is unknown whether it is directly linked to the AZD1222 vaccine.
This is the second time AstraZeneca has paused large-scale testing of its experimental vaccine after a volunteer became ill after being inoculated. The scientific journal Nature says the trial was halted in July after another participant in Britain also developed symptoms of transverse myelitis. The individual was eventually diagnosed with an “unrelated neurological illness.”
Many nations are experiencing a surge in the number of new COVID-19 infections, forcing them to order a new round of strict restrictions that were first imposed at the start of the outbreak.
Anies Baswedan, the governor of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, said Wednesday the government had no choice but to “pull the emergency brake” on the easing of coronavirus restrictions with the city’s hospitals nearing full capacity as they see thousands of new coronavirus cases daily. Jakarta has nearly 50,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,300 deaths, making up the bulk of Indonesia’s 207,203 total cases and 8,456 deaths.