COVID-19 Vaccine and the Supply Chain

As distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine begins to roll out, it is necessary that the supply chain ensures its delivery as efficiently as possible.

It is also critical that every stage of the supply chain follows the meticulous controls needed to maintain the required storage and handling, because we know that more than half of vaccines globally go to waste because of issues relating to temperature control, logistics or shipment.

What we know about the Pfizer vaccine is that it must be shipped and stored at extremely cold temperatures or packed with dry ice and will only last in a standard refrigerator temperature for up to five days. 

So how does a successful vaccine supply chain operate? Immunisation processes are dependent on efficient, functional, end to end supply chain and logistics. The role of a supply chain is to make sure the vaccine  is stored, handled and managed, which includes strict temperature control and up to date information systems. 

The goal of any vaccine supply chain is to avoid disruption to the availability of critical vaccines from the stage of manufacturer to delivery. This is so opportunity to obtain a vaccine is not missed by those who vitally need it.

According to the World Health Organisation, any vaccine supply chain ‘requires a system to achieve the six rights of supply – chain management.’ These are:

  1. Right Product
  2. Right Quantity
  3. Right Condition
  4. Right Place
  5. Right Time
  6. Right Cost

As the Covid-19 vaccine is new and in high demand, there will be immense pressure on the supply chain to adhere to all the above whilst delivering quickly and efficiently. With any new vaccine there is a real strain on logistics in order to manage the needs of a new delivery strategy, or implement new technology to support the transportation and increase efficiency. With a global pandemic the pressure will be great and the process in constant review to ensure swift, safe delivery or the important cargo.

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