The International Airline Transport Association’s (IATA) Guidance for Vaccine and Pharmaceutical Logistics and Distribution will ensure member airlines are prepared to handle what is expected to be the largest and most complex operation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Launched in mid-November, the guidance was developed in partnership with the International Civil Aviation Organization, International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Pan American Health Organization, UK Civil Aviation Authority, World Bank, World Customs Organization and World Trade Organization.
The guidance includes a repository of international standards and guidelines related to the transport of vaccines and will be updated regularly as information is made available to the industry. In addition, IATA has set up a joint information-sharing forum for stakeholders.
On December 2, the UK became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine and will roll out Pfizer-BioNTech’s drug from next week.
Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice-president for Asia Pacific, told a virtual media briefing that if people continue not to travel because of the 14-day quarantine requirement, airlines will continue to see a 90 per cent drop in traffic.
Commenting on Qantas’ announcement last week that passengers have to be vaccinated before flying with the airline, Clifford said he did not know when this regulation would kick in and was not aware of any other member deciding to follow suit.
IATA maintains that testing is still the way to go, and outgoing director-general Alexandre de Juniac, at its November 24 virtual AGM, commented: “We can’t wait for the vaccine, the priority now is testing.”
He added: “As excited as we are about vaccine development, I must be very clear on one point. We cannot wait for vaccine distribution to reopen borders for travel. An immediate solution already exists. We could safely open borders today with systematic Covid-19 testing.”