With COVID-19 devastating the globe and drastically reducing passenger flights on an international scale, along with a decrease of cargo flights (which are still considered as essential businesses), The ARK at JFK – which originally opened and operated as an animal reception terminal and quarantine, bio-secure facility – provides an even more critical function now more than ever, when health and hygiene come first and foremost.
Most recently, The ARK at JFK expanded its business lines (in addition to animal transport) during the time of COVID-19, by working with the medical community – specifically medical eggs which are utilized in the development and manufacture of flu, MMR and other vaccines. For the past 80 years, much of the world has relied on chicken eggs for the production of influenza vaccines. About 164.5 million doses of the flu vaccine were distributed across the U.S. this recent winter’s flu season, of which an estimated 82% were egg-based, according to the CDC.
Drug companies are also reportedly increasing their production of the flu vaccine to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed especially when COVID-19 is anticipated to rebound in this fall and winter.
Since late February 2020, The ARK has been receiving medical eggs via weekly shipments (approximately 2,000 to 3,000 eggs each shipment) which travel to pharmaceutical companies for drug/vaccine development. The ARK can handle these fragile egg’s journeys from unloading at The ARK, breaking-down of pallets, re-configuring the shipment into appropriate cargo containers, cargo screening and delivery to either the aircraft or cargo terminals all with appropriate temperature and environmental control, and processing – similar to the fragile process of animal transport.
In addition to the medical eggs, The ARK is still doing the ground handling for the majority of animal transport at JFK, including for animal emergencies, especially with less staff available throughout the airport. The ARK takes animal shipments on and off planes; transports animals via their own climate-controlled equipment; transport animals to other airports including between JFK/EWR; pick up and deliver animals/pets from individual homes; and more. What’s more, equine shipments in and out of JFK continue to be supported by The ARK, especially when USDA closed its quarantine facility in Rock Tavern, NY for three weeks. The ARK remained open and is fully functioning. The disruption in the supply chain due to COVID-19 certainly supports the consolidation of operations in a facility like The ARK.