News Article

Perfect Vaccine Delivery Through Safe Cold Chains

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 04/22/2020 - 16:44

PAHO describes the cold chain as a system used for keeping and distributing vaccines and other biologicals in good conditions. It consists on a series of storage and transport links designed to keep vaccines at a certain temperature until it reaches a patient. This system is sometimes called “the vaccine supply chain.”

Vaccines could be sensitive to freezing, heat or light and their effectiveness could be lost if they are not handled on their right conditions. Disruption of cold chains can be caused by blackouts, damaged roads, telecommunication networks, inappropriate warehouses or limited sea ports and airports. Infrastructure and capacity issues are common and technology can sometimes fail, so the planning of cold chains on conditions of uncertainty could prevent a massive disaster.

In 2017, Ventura City had 23,000 patients affected by mistreated vaccines for flu, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and hepatitis B. According to a report done on the case, vaccines went through very high and then through very low temperatures, which killed the effectiveness of the product.

In that same year, a tragic situation related to an incident with vaccines temperatures killed 15 children in South Sudan. According to the UN announcement, the children died due to severe toxicity from contaminated vaccines after they were stored without refrigeration. Years later, it was said that the vaccine cold chain failed and exposed the product to very low temperatures that froze the product.

Technology and innovation are tools that have and are still transforming the way we live. These two are also reshaping cold chain schemes, making them safer every time and preventing events that could end up in tragedies. A study posted by Emerald Insight gives an in-depth explanation on how technology can change the game for this humanitarian logistic tasks and it exposes how the use of drones, solar refrigerators and tracking and monitoring systems can change the management problems of the cold chain. While these are tools that can settle a more stable ground on the subject, cold chains must still adapt to different contexts and challenges. Moreover, they still depend on unpredictable situations that, in general, challenge the logistics sector.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, cold chains are soon to be on the scope once more and this could be an opportunity to focus on the challenges of every context. Governments and companies have been tested all at once but this could be an opportunity to join forces and come up with reliable solutions. Many countries have much more stable cold chain structures and strong collaboration could encourage larger companies to support the most vulnerable and respond to this pandemic successfully all over the world.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Devex, WHO, PAHO, Emerald, BBC NEWS
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst