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Dubai announces alliance to speed Covid vaccine delivery

Key transport hub Dubai on Sunday announced an initiative to accelerate the delivery of coronavirus vaccines, particularly to developing nations, after the WHO warned against abandoning the world’s poor.

The Vaccine Logistics Alliance, which includes Dubai-based Emirates airline and global logistics giant DP World, is designed to “speed up distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world through the emirate”.

The alliance will “support” the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative to distribute two billion vaccine doses, the Dubai Media Office said in a statement, without specifying how many doses it would deliver.

“The distribution will particularly focus on emerging markets, where populations have been hard-hit by the pandemic, and pharmaceutical transport and logistics are challenging,” it said.

The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai and six other emirates, has administered vaccines to more than a quarter of its population, second only to Israel in the global race.

The WHO has urged wealthy countries to avoid repeating past mistakes of hoarding medicines and vaccines, saying such behaviour would only drag out the pandemic.

“We are all too aware of the challenges facing us globally in this pandemic and necessity to work together,” the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet.

“Vaccine nationalism should not be tolerated in our common battle to defeat Covid,” he said.

Covax, the globally-pooled vaccine procurement and distribution effort, has struck agreements with manufacturers for two billion vaccine doses, and secured options on a billion more.

Dubai said the alliance will work with pharmaceutical manufacturers, forwarders, and government agencies to transport vaccines, some of which have to be kept at very cold temperatures.

“Together, we are able to store a large volume of vaccine doses at a time and bring in and distribute vaccines to any point around the world within 48 hours,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Emirates Airline.

The UAE itself has suffered a spike in cases after the holiday period, after aggressively opening up to tourism.

But it reported 2,948 new virus cases on Sunday, the lowest number since January 11.