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United Nations

Since the beginning of 2021, DSV has assisted the United Nations in delivering COVID-19 vaccine doses to UN peacekeeping missions around the world – a complex task that requires a robust and flexible global cold chain, careful product handling and close coordination and monitoring.

Among many other things, the United Nations (UN) and its agencies ensure that vaccines against various diseases are distributed to vulnerable people across the globe. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the UN initiated an operation to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to its peacekeepers and field offices around the world, as this was essential to secure the UN’s continued activities.

Delivering vaccines to our peacekeepers in the field helps us not only protect our personnel but also ensures that the United Nations can continue to carry out its vital work protecting vulnerable communities and delivering on its mandates

- Sandro Calavalle, Chief Movement Control Section,
Logistics Division / Office of Supply Chain Management (OSCM),
United Nations Department of Operational Support

In order to carry out this operation, the UN needed a logistics partner with the capacity to manage all transportation and logistics tasks surrounding the vaccines. The UN believed that DSV would be the right partner for this job, particularly due to DSV’s comprehensive experience with humanitarian operations, the DSV Aid & Relief team’s long-standing partnership with the UN together with DSV’s capabilities within pharmaceutical and healthcare logistics.

COVID-19 vaccines being packaged at the DSV pharma warehouse near Roskilde, Denmark.

A highly complex operation

The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines is a complex task, especially due to the nature of the products and the various destinations. The vaccines are highly temperature-sensitive and require specific storage and packaging.

DSV is currently managing three different COVID-19 vaccines for the UN, and temperature requirements during storage range from -25 to +8 degrees Celsius depending on the type of vaccine, while the temperature during distribution should be between +2 and +8 degrees Celsius. To keep the required temperatures, DSV uses a special thermal packaging solution that can maintain the required 2-8 degrees Celsius for 96h in ambient conditions.

“At present, we have delivered 320,000 doses of vaccines to more than 70 of the 115 countries where the UN has personnel stationed. We have often been faced with the challenge of having to reach people in remote locations and enter countries that were under lockdown due to COVID-19. Despite this, we managed to deliver vaccines in good condition to hard-to-reach countries such as Papua New Guinea and Nepal – destinations that required planning down to the minute, as transhipments and connecting charters was the only way to reach the destination within the 96h deadline,” says Johan Dalheim, General Manager for Aid & Relief.


The handling of the shipments

DSV’s Aid & Relief team is in charge of coordinating the many elements that are needed to carry out the operation, and all processes are monitored around the clock through DSV Flow Control.

DSV has a warehouse near Roskilde, Denmark which is specialised in handling pharma products. This warehouse plays a central role in the vaccine distribution process, as the vaccines and ancillary items are transported to the warehouse from the manufacturers and stored there before being repacked and distributed to their final destinations.
COVID-19 vaccines being transported in active temperature-controlled containers provided by Environtainer.

Jens Madsen, Business Development Manager in DSV Solutions, explains: “Vaccines, swabs, needles and syringes arrive at our GMP- and GDP-certified pharma warehouse from different countries. Here, the items are stored, picked and packed at the prescribed temperature. The sizes of the consignments vary from pallets with vaccines and ancillary items for many people to a single vial for one individual.”

In cases where there is a surplus of vaccines, the leftover vaccines are returned to the DSV pharma warehouse in Roskilde, so they can be repacked and redistributed to UN personnel around the world.

Every consignment that is shipped from the DSV warehouse in Roskilde is equipped with a tracking device, which consistently measures, registers and reports the temperature of the vaccines. Updates are furthermore sent to the UN whenever a departure or arrival of vaccines takes place.

A life-saving operation

DSV’s collaboration with the UN to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to UN personnel is still ongoing and will be prolonged into 2022, and Sandro Calavalle is satisfied with DSV’s work so far:

We thank DSV for its critical support with the transport and logistics of these life-saving vaccines, and we look forward to continued collaboration in the months ahead.

- Sandro Calavalle, Chief Movement Control Section,
Logistics Division / Office of Supply Chain Management (OSCM),
United Nations Department of Operational Support

DSV’s work for the UN will continue in the months to come, and more vaccines will arrive at the pharma warehouse in Roskilde as the project continues, meaning that many more UN employees and partners of the UN in critical parts of the world will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine before long.

About the United Nations

The UN was founded in 1945 and is an international organisation working to maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, deliver humanitarian aid as well as support sustainable development and climate action. The UN is currently made up of 193 Member States.


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