Alibaba’s Cainiao says it is in talks with Chinese vaccine makers over logistics

PUBLISHED: Thu, 03 Dec 2020 09:32:42 GMT
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ACCRA, GHANA – NOVEMBER 16: Alibaba founder Jack Ma (C) attends the maiden awards ceremony of The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) led by the Jack Ma Foundation on November 16, 2019 in Accra, Ghana. The ANPI, which was launched in 2018, will offer 10 million U.S. dollars to 100 African entrepreneurs over a ten-year period. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Alibaba Group’s Cainiao is in talks with Chinese vaccine makers over COVID-19 vaccine logistics, a spokeswoman said on Thursday, as the company launched a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to transport medicine to the Middle East and Africa.

“We are currently in discussion with some domestic COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and international organizations on cooperation over COVID-19 vaccine logistics,” the spokeswoman said.

Cainiao, a logistics company, underpins delivery for Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplace, and it says it aims to deliver across the globe in 72 hours. The spokeswoman did not name the vaccine makers.

The company and Ethiopian Airlines launched a special cold chain air freight service to transport temperature-sensitive medicines from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen to Africa and the rest of the world via Dubai and Addis Abba.

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“This is China’s first cross-border medical cold chain route to be operated regularly and is certified to transport temperature-controlled medicines including COVID-19 vaccines,” Cainiao said in a statement.

China has several vaccine developers running the final stages of clinical trials to determine the efficacy of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. They include Sinovac Biotech Ltd, CanSinoBio and China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).

Cold chain storage and transportation have become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 1.5 million people. The promising Pfizer vaccine, for instance, is required to be stored at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below.