From factory to arm: Inside the UAE's chilly COVID-19 vaccine hub

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ABU DHABI, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Millions of COVID-19 vaccines sit in a warehouse in Abu Dhabi, waiting to be shipped globally and injected into peoples arms.

Outside, the temperature is soaring. Inside, the warehouse is kept at around 4 Celsius (39.2 Fahrenheit), and its ultra-cold storage fridges at -81 Celsius.

The building in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Industrial Zone (KIZAD)is part of the HOPE Consortium, a commercial vaccine logistics group set up by the emirate last year as global demand for storage and shipment of COVID-19 shots soared.

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It recently expanded its services in partnership with Via Medica International Healthcare to take vaccines on the last mile of their journey from airports to people in countries with limited logistical or healthcare capabilities, to avoid vaccine wastage.

"Vaccines are important but vaccinations are even more important," Abu Dhabi Ports Logistics Head Robert Sutton said.

The HOPE Consortium said it has handled around 65 million vaccine doses in more than 40 countries so far.

"A typical supply chain collects from point A and delivers to point B. We actually go further than that. We monitor the demand on the manufacturers, we track purchase orders against that," Sutton said.

The UAE is an aviation hub and has been trying to diversify its oil-based economy into technical, medical and other fields.

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Reporting by Abdelhadi Ramahi, Writing by Lisa Barrington, Editing by Andrew Heavens

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