Sashka, Автор в Noord Connect
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Industry news

The Russian vaccine Sputnik V successfully continues to expand its geography. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) regularly informs about new countries that have allowed the use of the Sputnik V in vaccination against COVID-19. To date, more than 30 countries have approved the use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, including the majority of Latina American countries, many of which have not yet received vaccines under the COVAX mechanism, designed to ensure for developing countries access to the vaccine against the COVID-19.

Facing a similar challenge Serbia reached an agreement with Russia on the supply of 2 million doses of Sputnik V in early 2021 and has already received several vaccine supplies at its disposal.

The independent Russian company Nord Connect which has been operating on the market of international forwarding and logistics services for over 10 years, was directly involved in the delivery of the Sputnik V vaccine to Serbia. The company has successfully implemented a unique supply chain with end-to-end continuous temperature control, which is mandatory for the transportation of the Sputnik V vaccine.

Under instructions from the manufacturer any manipulations during the transportation and storage of the frozen liquid form of the Sputnik V vector vaccine should be carried out according to the “cold chain” principle using specialized equipment that provides a temperature regime of minus 18° C. To meet those requirements, Nord Connect entered into an exclusive agreement with Biocard, one of the best developers and manufacturers of thermal packaging on the market. The consignment of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V was carefully packed in SafePack passive refrigeration containers with ice-packs capable of maintaining the required temperature regime for more than 10 days and delivered to the final consumer in Serbia.

In the next few years, the global logistics industry will have to ensure the delivery of about 10 billion doses of vaccine (according to the industry leader – the German concern Deutsche Post DHL located in Bonn). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has already called the upcoming vaccine distribution worldwide “the largest and most complex logistics operation ever.” And the major challenge is not the scope of supply, but, as mentioned earlier, the special conditions of storage and transportation – at low and ultra-low temperatures. For Sputnik V it is minus 18° С. Other vaccines require much lower temperatures: from minus 70° С to minus 80° С.

Therefore, under the strict confines of the pandemic, the more valuable are the successes of small but constantly developing logistics companies like Nord Connect which is committed to long-term and fruitful cooperation with foreign consumers of the vaccine. A wide company’s network of agents allow the delivery of the vaccine to the most remote locations in the world.

The LACRUS project, for its part, is the main partner of Nord Connect in Latin America. LACRUS provides consulting services on a wide range of issues in the commercial, technical and expert spheres, including support in negotiations with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on the purchase of small and average batches of the Sputnik V vaccine.

Australia’s plan to build an airport in Antarctica is criticized by the scientists that should be the main beneficiaries of the project.

In 2018, Australia’s government announced plans to construct a paved runway near Davis research station in Antarctica. In 2019, an additional funding for the development of the Davis Aerodrome Project was secured. The runway would support year-round air connectivity between Hobart, the capital of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, and Antarctica.

Current air access

Australia claims around 40% of Antarctica and a 200-mile nautical zone around it. Currently the Australia-Antarctica connection consists of a summer-only link from Hobart to the Wilkins Aerodrome ice runway. During the summer, the airport closes for 6 weeks as the warmer temperatures cause the ice surface to weaken. Winter connections to Antarctica are problematic as temperatures drop to −40°C at Davis research station. To facilitate the air connectivity and access to Antarctica, Australia drafted plans for the new airport.

The new aerodrome

The proposed aerodrome would take up a 2,700-meter paved runway capable of handling Boeing 787 Dreamliners or an Airbus A330. The infrastructure would include a taxiway, aircraft apron, runway lighting, and associated buildings to accommodate services, such as air traffic and rescue and fire fighting services. Moreover, it would contain an access road from the station to the aerodrome, a new wharf and a temporary station for the workers during the construction period.

“The construction of a paved runway at Davis research station would represent a significant capability boost that would revolutionize our scientific activities and enhance Australia’s leadership and long-term interests in the region,” according to the Australian Antarctic Division’s website.

Air connectivity would significantly increase as flights between Hobart and the new runway would take about six hours to cover the 4,838-kilometer distance.

Reportedly, a big part of the new runway will be prefabricated in Australia and shipped to the site by ship, including 11,500 cement elements weighing 10 tons each. The total of 115,000 tons of concrete would be brought to the Antarctic wilderness to build the 2.7km long and 40 metres wide airstrip. The 10-year construction would mount to $2.8 billion.

Another argument for the new aerodrome is Australia’s strategic concerns to counter China’s growing presence in Antarctica. So far, China has four Antarctic stations with a fifth station to be completed in 2022.

The Pushback

Environmental scientists have expressed their concerns about the multi-billion-dollar airport project, claiming it would be a waste of money and could have destructive consequences in the frozen continent.

“It’s unprecedented in the Antarctic in terms of the scale of investment and the impact on the environment. Although it is being done in the name of science, very few scientists are enthusiastic. This is more about flag-waving. It is about firming up Australia’s presence and our claim,” wrote Shaun Brooks, an environmental scientist at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies of the University at Tasmania, in the Conversation.

Brooks criticized the idea of building a massive airport for the base that hosts only 19 people during the winter and has been functioning well since 1957.

The construction, which is expected to take more than a decade, raises concerns over pollution, noise and carbon emission. It would take about 100 icebreaker voyages to ship all the materials. Furthermore, the wildlife habitat of breeding colonies of southern giant petrels, seals and Adélie penguins would be disrupted during the construction, as pointed out by the Guardian.

“It doesn’t align with Australia’s claim to be an environmental leader. Antarctica is special. Everywhere else in the world, you measure wilderness by what’s left. In Antarctica, it’s still the other way round,” added Brooks.

“The proposed Davis aerodrome is in a detailed planning phase and has commenced environmental assessment under national and international Antarctic Treaty processes which includes public consultation,” according to the press release of Australia’s Environmental Minister Sussan Ley.

The project is yet to be confirmed with budget discussions expected to take place in 2022. If approvals are granted, construction would begin in 2023 and run until 2040 at the earliest.