Key Steps for the Efficient Delivery of COVID-19 VaccinesBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 07/14/2021 - 18:40
Every step in the supply chain is relevant to the successful delivery of a product, but this process has been especially vital when it comes to the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. From beginning to end, all steps in the logistic process of vaccine distribution must be addressed with care so patients can receive this life-saving product.
For a vaccine, the entire logistics process begins once it leaves the production plant, explained Alesio Bereciartu, Commercial Director of the Life Sciences Division Latin America of OCASA. He explained that the vaccine has to be “shipped with real-time tracking to the airport, where our monitored transportation service will receive, register, load and secure it with the support of the national government (depending on each country) to deliver it to the final point.” OCASA is distributing Pfizer’s vaccine in some countries in the Americas.
A secure cold chain is essential to the quality distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, explains Global Trade. For instance, Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept below -70°C during storage for a maximum of 10 days. These stringent storage conditions force governments to limit their orders to those that can be applied within that time. A report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that about 25 percent of shipped vaccines are compromised due to poor temperature management, an untenable figure for a vaccine on which global health and economies depend.
These stringent conditions make efficient distribution critical but particularly challenging during last-mile delivery, especially to rural and remote healthcare facilities. Location intelligence, the use of location data to identify connections between people and places at specific geographic places, can support optimal distribution in challenging locations, according to Global Trade. To improve last-mile delivery, logistics providers will need updated data on weather, road conditions, road restrictions, traffic and site-specific information, such as loading dock location.
Finally, the share of data obtained during delivery can help companies complement logistic routes. Seamlessly integrated data provides complete situational awareness to support decision-making at each link in a supply chain. This helps companies get the time-sensitive COVID-19 vaccine where it needs to go and exactly when it needs to be there, using the most efficient path.
Bereciartu explained that the complex logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine involves an extensive documentation process. “One of the most outstanding aspects of these deliveries is the level of national security involved in the transportation to the final delivery point.”
The logistics process also involves significant collaboration between pharmaceutical and logistics companies. In Pfizer’s case, “we have direct supply agreements with 122 nations and, according to current projections, we expect to manufacture up to 3 billion doses by the end of 2021,” said Constanza Losada, President and Country Manager of Pfizer, to MBN. Pfizer also uses its own global supply chain to ship vaccines to several governments including Mexico’s, which allows the company to fulfil its commitments and ensure reliable, equitable and continuous deployment, explained Losada.