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COVID-19 community stories

How we're getting millions of
COVID-19 vaccines to the world

We’re playing a critical role in the humanitarian mission to quickly and reliably transport COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s how we get it done.

An estimated 12 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be produced in 2021 – and around half of them will be shipped by air. It’s a gargantuan task, but our cargo division has the resources, training and experience for the challenge.

‘We’re ready to assist with what will be the biggest humanitarian response to a situation that anyone has ever seen,’ says Tom Owen, Director Cargo.  From our expanded cold storage facilities to new tracking technology, these are the ways we are getting vaccines safely to where they need to go.


Fleet and storage for up to 8 million doses a day

We are the third-largest freight carrier in the world, and have 20 dedicated freighters and the cargo bellies of about 200 passenger aircraft. This allows us to transport a significant volume of vaccines around the world.

Our cargo terminal in Hong Kong has been optimised for the massive vaccine uplift. Our cold storage facilities can currently hold and process 7 million doses of vaccine a day, with space for another 1 million doses coming soon.

A custom-made shipping solution

While Cathay Pacific Cargo has many years of experience carrying pharmaceutical shipments – including vaccines – we’ve developed a dedicated vaccine solution to ensure that the vaccines are in the safest, fastest possible hands.

Real-time tracking and 24/7 monitoring

Vaccines are sensitive to temperature, so it’s important to be able to monitor a shipment as it travels around the world. Our next-generation tracking system, Ultra Track, can follow a shipment in near real-time throughout its entire journey, using a Bluetooth reader to transmit detailed data about each shipment.

We can also monitor these shipments 24/7, so if, for example, the temperature of a vaccine shipment starts to rise, we can deploy our team to resolve the issue and save crucial shipments from wastage.

A global network, with direct flights and additional reach

Vaccines are needed across the entire world. That’s where our extensive network comes in: we fly directly to most of the main production centres in India, Europe, the Chinese Mainland and the U.S.

Although some of our passenger routes are not flying, that actually gives us an additional lift and reach – our passenger aircraft and their pilots are available to fly vaccines to areas around the world that need them.