KUALA LUMPUR: Meticulous preparations preceded the special flight which carried the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, says MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASkargo) chief executive officer Ibrahim Mohamed Salleh.
These challenges included vaccine management procedures that required careful planning to ensure smooth movement from each location, he said.
“We’ve been preparing since August last year while the Covid-19 vaccine was still in the developmental stage. Arrangements have been underway pending completion of the trial.
“We needed to take into account several factors including the temperature, the speed required during the vaccine handling process and the sublimation rate if dry ice is used, ” he said during a Bernama TV interview yesterday.
Ibrahim noted that time was a factor when handing the Covid-19 vaccine because it needed to be administered as soon as possible and could not be stored like other vaccines or medicines for clearance procedures by the Customs Department.
To ensure smooth handling operations, he said MASkargo, the cargo arm of national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), worked with other agencies including the Customs Department for the documentation process, as well as with the manufacturers and freight forwarders involved before the vaccine was handed over to the Health Ministry.
“This requires careful preparation and a little fine-tuning to meet the handling specifications of the vaccine.
“Our employees are also trained because MASkargo has a long experience in managing the transportation of other vaccines, ” he said.
He said MASkargo was ready to handle other vaccines such as Sinovac and AstraZeneca.
The vaccine journey started from the Pfizer plant in Belgium with a flight carrying the vaccine departing from Puurs and transiting at Leipzig Halle Airport before heading to Singapore for distribution to other Asia Pacific countries including Malaysia.
Upon landing, the process of transferring the vaccine, which was placed in the unit load device, from the cargo section of the aircraft to a truck belonging to a logistics company, was carried out at the KLIA’s Advanced Cargo Centre.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Aviation Group chief executive officer Capt Izham Ismail also noted that the national airline was proud to serve the country in this important mission.
“Being the country’s national carrier, we took the responsibility of transporting the vaccines very seriously, as the success of the vaccination programme is key in helping the country achieve economic and financial recovery.
“Despite being very experienced in handling time and temperature-sensitive items, we still worked hard in preparing the organisation in this highly complex and demanding task to ensure seamless end-to-end execution.
“Our skilled workforce and adequate infrastructure were vital in ensuring the safe, secure and hygienic handling, transportation and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine to Malaysia or any part of the world, ” he said in a statement.