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How many flights will it require for the global coverage of Covid vaccines?

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To ensure the global coverage of Covid vaccines over the next two years, over 200,000 movements by pallet shippers on as many as 15,000 flights may be required, according to estimates by the logistics major DHL.

A white paper released by the company on “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” says, “Given the urgency of the pandemic, vaccines will likely be transported via air freight for longer distances. In downstream distribution, accommodating the stringent temperature requirements will be even more challenging.”

Not all planes are suitable for delivering vaccines as they need a typical temperature range of between 2 and 8 degrees C for transporting drugs. Some vaccines require freezing temperatures which exclude more aircraft, thus making the global coverage of Covid vaccines even more difficult.

The increasing number of covid cases across the world has made the widespread access of vaccine a mission. And, the requirement to keep a constant temperature at all times and lockdowns in different areas has given birth to several obstacles in fulfilling this mission.

“Investments in cold-chain logistics must be considered, depending on whether vaccine distribution involves stringent or more conventional temperature requirements,” the DHL white paper said.

“Under very stringent temperature requirements, structural challenges, such as availability of high-performance cold chain logistics for even the most adverse environmental conditions, can only be overcome through technological advances and policy intervention,” it added.

The paper suggests that around seven billion to nine billion vaccine doses and corresponding ancillary supplies are expected to be distributed annually between 2022 and 2023.

“Learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, governments should expand and institutionalize virus containment and countermeasures (e.g., early-warning systems, digital contact tracing, and national stockpiles) to ensure strategic preparedness and more efficient response times in the future,” it said.

Further the paper added that, “Achieving high vaccination rates is indispensable for a return to normality. Initial models suggest that 5 billion to 6 billion people will need to be vaccinated to ensure the sustainable management of this virus with minimal mortality rates,”

In India the second wave has brought an unabated rise in fresh covid-19 cases in the last few days, with daily additions touching over two lakh. About 276,110 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, according to government data.

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