Covid: AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines travel 9,000 miles to British team in Antarctica

Credit: Foreign Office

The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been delivered to one of the most remote places on Earth, arriving in Antarctica nine months after it was first rolled out.

The jab, developed at Oxford University, was flown more than 9,000 miles in order to vaccinate 23 UK scientists working at the British Antarctic Survey Research Station.

It's the furthest south any vaccine has ever travelled from the UK - a feat executed by the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, the RAF and contractor Crown Agents.

From RAF Brize Norton, the jabs were flown to the research station via Senegal and the Falklands Islands. They had to be kept between 2°C to 8°C during the journey and travel for no more than 92 hours.

Double doses of the vaccines are now available to the “overwintering” team, who keep facilities running during the coldest winter months. The staff includes marine and terrestrial biologists, meteorologists, electronics engineers, a dive officer, doctor and chef.

The journey was part of the government's efforts to deliver vaccines to all UK Overseas Territories.

A scientist carries a box of vaccines. Credit: UK Foreign Office

The British Antarctic Territory is the largest UK Overseas Territory, and the last to be supplied with the vaccine.Crown Agents’ Chief Executive Officer Fergus Drake, said: “Since March last year we have worked with the FCDO to ship medical items to literally the ends of the Earth to support the UK Overseas Territories during the pandemic.

"From Pitcairn Island to Tristan Da Cunha, our teams have overcome extreme logistical challenges to deliver medical equipment - and supporting the safe arrival of vaccines all the way to Antarctica has certainly been a highlight."

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