The race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine has ended, and it is now about vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible to stem the pandemic—an unprecedented and monumental task. Addressing the challenges of vaccine distribution and administration requires strategic integration and coordination of supply chains across the globe. Supply chain orchestration software can aid vaccine distribution by integrating various logistics activities, from freight booking to shipment tracking to compliance, and give stakeholders the resources they need to vaccinate the world successfully and fast.
How Supply Chain Orchestration Aids Vaccine distribution: Logistics Challenges
Logistics providers need high-quality cold chains to get the vaccine to as many people in the shortest possible time, something that has never been done before. This is compounded by the challenge of delivering vaccines safely to end users and strict record-keeping to ensure there’s enough vaccine left for the second dose.
Over 50 vaccines for COVID-19 are currently in clinical trials with a few approved for limited use in some countries. Some of these vaccines need to be stored and transported in a freezer, including the mRNA-based vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70C or below, while he Moderna vaccine must be stored at -20C. Because of strict handling requirements, the Pfizer vaccine is likely to end up in distribution centers with freezer farms and not in doctor’s offices.
Air freight is the primary mode of transport for early-stage vaccines because of speed, but container availability and cost are issues for mass distribution. Other modes can be utilized for vector-based and more stable vaccines, like ocean freight that has a good track record for downstream distribution of pharmaceuticals at 2-8C.
Besides strict temperature audits on the pallet level, efficient vaccine distribution requires adequate capacity and proper management of overland transport, and enough certified warehouses that can meet healthcare and pharmaceutical quality standards. Pharmaceuticals that require cold storage also require extensive audits across the supply chain to ensure they meet global standards.
In the U.S., the vaccine is tracked and ordered via a system that works with the CDC’s vaccine Tracking System (VTrckS). FedEX uses proprietary software for shipment tracking that provides near-real time data on vaccine packages, data that is available to FedEx teams as well as customers.
Final Mile Delivery
Around 15 billion doses will be needed worldwide, according to ScienceNews.org. Vaccine distributors are dealing not only with supply chains ill-equipped for this colossal task but also with regulations that vary by area and region. How fast people can get vaccinated depends on many factors: how quickly the virus and its variants spread, willingness of individuals to get the vaccine, and delivery systems.
The final mile is a shipment’s journey from a storage facility to the customer, in this case from a central vaccine distribution center to clinics and patients. Pfizer’s vaccine is currently being transported from Pfizer’s facility in Michigan to various U.S. sites, while facilities in Germany and Belgium with handle distribution for the European Union.
Final mile delivery could get pricey as it requires special delivery containers like freezer trucks that are in short supply. Refrigerated trucks are normally used to transport foods and medicines, but there are not enough of them to get the vaccine to everyone fast enough. Logistics providers need to increase capacity or they won’t be able to ship the vaccine and other cargo that needs refrigeration. Vaccines will be even more difficult to the distribute in emerging countries where there are many areas without electricity.
Distribution and Administration
Distribution depends on the type of vaccine (mRNA-based or vector-based). Operation Warp Speed reported that Pfizer vaccines are currently distributed by UPS and FedEx, while Moderna vaccines are transported by McKesson to distribution centers before getting to the end user. All three logistics providers have experience in shipping temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals.
To ensure smooth deliveries, the American Trucking Association (ATA) is closely monitoring distribution and working with trucking associations and public health officials. Logistics companies are also using waivers to ease transport, like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) waiver for driver hours of service when delivering COVID supplies.
Despite these arrangements, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of January 15, 2021, only 12.3 million doses have been administered out of the 31.2 million vaccines that have been distributed across the country. Local groups have complained of slow vaccine administration, a buggy vaccine registration system, and conflicting information from the government, among other issues.
Because distribution plans vary by state and country and it changes daily, it affects logistics requirements. This is part of the reason why many areas around the world still do not have enough vaccines for priority groups, much less for the entire population. Government and public health agencies around the world are shaping up and improving distribution and administration plans, aiming for a coordinated approach and comprehensive oversight.
To address the shortfall issue in the U.S., the CDC has recently expanded vaccine eligibility to more groups while the Biden administration plans to ramp up production for second doses. Biden plans to spend $25 billion in a vaccine manufacturing and distribution plan and administer 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office.
How GeTS CALISTA Supply Chain Orchestration Aids Vaccine Distribution
Supply chain orchestration aids vaccine distribution in many ways. Vaccinating the world successfully requires more than just an adequate supply of vaccines for multiple doses, but strategic integration and visibility across the supply chain.
CALISTA is a supply chain orchestration platform that brings together key logistics activities (physical, compliance and financial) to transform global supply chain management. CALISTA can help stakeholders around the world streamline vaccine distribution and management with a suite of advanced, comprehensive tools.
Features and Benefits:
Integrated logistics activities.
Global vaccine distribution has multiple moving parts, requiring seamless integration of supply chain activities and participants. Increased visibility and access to the right information at the right time mitigates the risk associated with constantly-changing distribution plans of governments and public health agencies. CALISTA puts key logistics activities at your fingertips so you can make better decisions. The single platform solution provides access to 90+ network carriers, 60+ custom nodes, and 10,000+ freight forwarders in the hive community.
Seamless freight booking, tracking and management.
Effective distribution depends on the type of vaccine. Increased production of both temperature-sensitive and stable vaccines requires multi-modal logistics that can be difficult to plan without the right software. CALISTA provides seamless freight booking for shippers in all modes of transport, with coverage for ocean freight, hinterland (barge, rail and truck), air and inter-modal logistics. This allows shippers to move cargo more efficiently and respond quickly to demand and market changes.
With access to thousands of providers, users can easily book freight, prepare and submit shipment documentation, edit and share documents, and monitor shipment status from anywhere in the world. Freight forwarders can easily upload and manage freight rates and RFQ with the Freight Exchange management tool.
Real-time data visibility.
Real-time data visibility is critical to track and monitor the movement of vaccines, especially in emerging markets. CALISTA provides real-time supply chain visibility, allowing providers and healthcare customers to access to real-time updates so they can better respond to unforeseen circumstances, quickly address issues, and provide uninterrupted service regardless of geographic location.
To learn more about supply chain orchestration and vaccine distribution, visit our supply chain orchestration page or contact us today!
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