Dec 19, 2020 - World

Airports advised to beef up security to protect COVID-19 vaccine shipments

Shipments of the Pfizer And BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are loaded into a UPS plane at the Capital Region International Airport on December 13, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan.
Shipments of the Pfizer And BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are loaded into a UPS plane at the Capital Region International Airport on December 13, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Airports Council International (ACI) has advised airports worldwide to step up their security to protect COVID-19 vaccine shipments, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: INTERPOL issued a global alert earlier this month, warning law enforcement agencies to prepare for organized crime networks that may target COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

  • “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains," INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said in a Dec. 2 press release.

What they're saying: “The sensitive nature of the vaccines, the high level of demand there will be for obtaining them and the initial short supply has the potential to generate some attention by persons or groups with malicious intent,” ACI, a global airports body, said in a bulletin published Friday said, per Reuters.

  • “Consideration should be given to increased protection of these goods and/or the facilities that will house them. In many cases, this requires coordination with local security authorities," it added.
  • ACI also advised airports take extra measures to ensure the safe transportation of large amounts of dry ice being used to keep the vaccines cold enough.
  • It said UN aviation agency officials were discussing whether to "increase the volume of dry ice that may be transported in a single aircraft, provided strict protocols are followed.”

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