MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – Memphis is playing a key role in the international battle against COVID 19 with Memphis International Airport once again serving as a distribution hub for vaccines.
Wednesday night a plane landed at MEM from Bogota, Colombia to load up on 2.5 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It’s part of the White House’s plan for vaccine sharing across the globe.
The White House said the 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses leaving Memphis Wednesday and landing hours later in Colombia are just a part of the 80 million vaccines the Administration pledged to share by the end of June.
“The airport is a nexus of global activity. This event further illustrated that,” Memphis International Airport Director of Communications Glen Thomas said.
Memphis International Airport is now the largest cargo airport in the world.
A crew on the ground Wednesday said a Colombian military jet landed in Memphis to pick up the vaccine.
When the Johnson and Johnson doses arrived back in the South American county, Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez was there to greet the pilots.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris praised the Biden Administration’s plan for global vaccine access.
“We must improve access to the vaccine globally for us to truly beat this virus. President Biden recognizes that and should be applauded for the efforts to get more people around the world vaccinated against COVID-19. This shipment to Colombia represents that commitment. We are proud that Memphians, and the Memphis International Airport, have once again served as the tip of the spear in the fight to end the pandemic,” Harris said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland echoed similar sentiments in his statement.
“I’m extremely proud of the role our airport has been able to play during one the most important times in our history,” Strickland said.
Eyes have been on Memphis International Airport since the start of vaccine distribution as the country’s first vaccines rolled out of the FedEx’s World Hub in December, and as early as two weeks ago FedEx announced the successful delivery of over a million vaccine doses to Mexico.
“We saw that responsibility increase with our tenants here in terms of that vaccine distribution,” Thomas said. “Having that sort of global impact certainly brings us a lot of pride.”
The White House says the federal government plans to purchase another 500 million Pfizer vaccines to distribute to countries within the African Union and 92 other low and lower-middle income countries over the year.
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