Last April, the New England Patriots sent one of their team planes to Shenzhen, China, to help deliver 1.2 million protective masks to Massachusetts. Last week, it once again found itself on a mission to help in the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
The so-called “AirKraft” delivered a batch of 500,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from China to El Salvador. The communications department of El Salvadorian president Nayib Bukele shared the plane’s arrival on social media:
The delivery will play a crucial role in El Salvador’s vaccination efforts, with the country of 6.4 million so far having distributed 1.6 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines. There have been 72,220 confirmed in the country cases since the virus outbreak last year, with 2,220 deaths directly tied to it.
While the club itself was not directly involved in the process of the delivery, team spokesman Stacey James told the Associated Press that “it’s great to be associated with positive missions to deliver vaccines where they’re needed” and that “this wasn’t a political mission.”
When not used by the Patriots, the Boeing 767 is leased for chartered flights by Eastern Airlines. The team itself, however, is also using it in charitable fashion on a somewhat regular basis.
Not only did it help deliver masks to Massachusetts and now vaccines to El Salvador, the Patriots also employed it to pick up students from Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida for an anti gun violence rally in Washington D.C. in 2018. Just earlier this year, the Kraft Family furthermore arranged for one of their planes to take 76 healthcare workers to the Super Bowl in Tampa.
“Last April, when our plane returned with masks from China, we never could have imagined the devastation this pandemic would cause, nor could we have dreamed of the heroic stories and achievements that have come to be as a result, especially the dedication of healthcare workers on the front lines and the creation of safe and effective vaccines,” team owner Robert Kraft said in a statement released by the club in February.
In the meantime, the Patriots’ facility at Gillette Stadium will continue to be used as a mass vaccination site. More than 600,000 doses have been distributed so far.