March 23, 2021

Distribution Challenges of the COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 obliterated major supply chains all over the world and thus the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is going to be a challenging endeavour in every sense of the word.
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If the current state of supply chains, broken and diminished in many cases, is not changed soon, the distribution of the vaccine to those who need it the most is going to be impossible. And due to the sheer scale and urgency of the distribution, this distribution is destined to put up challenges unlike any other. Some of such challenges are discussed below in detail:

Speed to market

The efforts for the creation of a vaccine against COVID-19 are on-going all across the globe. Any country or entity that is successful in the creation of a vaccine will have to work with an unprecedented speed to market. On top of that, the vaccine might also require a controlled temperature environment to be shipped. Any distributor, be it an entire country, an entity, or a local distributor, all will need to commit enormous efforts in order to ensure the vaccine’s supply meets the demand.

If the vaccine requires a certain temperature for being stored safely, there are options for distributors to maintain the required temperature. Cold chain monitoring solution provided by suppliers such as Logmore are extremely effective in recording the temperature of products in transit. The need for such temperature monitoring solutions is now more prominent than ever. They will be a key factor in ensuring the safe arrival of COVID-19 vaccine to the most remote parts of the world.

Shipping networks

For the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine, new shipping will have to be created rapidly. You are bound to face challenges and difficulties in setting up shipping networks in new locations and extending their reach to people living in challenging environments such as in extreme cold or in extreme hot climate zones.

The people working on the supply chain will have to deliver the vaccine through unfamiliar routes and unknown locations. Vaccines will have to be stored in facilities potentially underprepared to handle such large-scale distribution. It is very likely that the COVID-19 vaccine will be a cold chain distribution project adding to the existing difficulties in the distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Every available hand will be required to ensure safe and timely shipping to meet the demand at a national and international level.

To make this task less daunting, the services of data logging solutions like Logmore will be required. It will ensure the safety and integrity of the vaccines and also ensure that the temperature requirement of the vaccine is met at all times.

Scaling

The vaccine for COVID-19 will require full-scale shipping from the first days. Instead of test doses or a lower quantity of doses, the maximum number of vaccines that are available will need to be delivered. It will need to scale from 0 to 100 within a matter of days, from manufacturing to delivery, everything will need to work at maximum capacity from the moment it’s ready.

When you combine full-scale production with uncertain shipping networks it results in a recipe for disaster. In order to mitigate such disasters, modern monitoring and distribution solutions will need to be implemented. Cargo monitoring solutions from solution providers such as Logmore can help reduce the threat and disasters associated with full-scale production and uncertain shipping network.

Data logging solutions provided by Logmore can track and monitor packages even in extreme cold and harsh conditions. Their sensors are able to detect temperature changes, humidity, shocks, light, and tilt. By implementing such a solution, you can ensure that the vaccine reaches its destination without any interference, damage, or contamination. A solution like this can surely reduce some of the distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Using normal methods, it will be difficult for manufacturers and distributors to decide whether to accept or reject the vaccine received and they will be unable to ensure the integrity of the chain of custody. They will need to make decisions based on circumstantial evidence rather than relying on hard evidential data.

Time delay

Even if you decide to implement a cold chain monitoring solution, it is important that you choose the right solution for the distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Regular monitoring solutions are destined to fail in the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. The distribution of vaccines for corona is going to happen fast, and it needs to be accurate. Since conventional distribution solution providers use devices that record data during transit and require manual upload, it will be of little to no use in making the decision of accepting or rejecting the vaccine delivery.

Solution providers like Logmore offer high-performance, low-cost devices with automatic data sync over the secure cloud, meaning that they don’t require manual upload of data and they give live, accurate updates about the status of the shipment. Devices provided by such cold chain monitoring solutions providers deploy quickly, capture more accurate data, and ensure no shipment goes to waste.

Product visibility

Implementation of a cold chain distribution model is going to be challenging in order to handle the distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccine. Using the latest and greatest data logging solutions will help increase product visibility and will help mitigate the threat of unverifiable or incomplete products related to COVID-19 vaccines.

In order to increase product visibility and to handle the multimodal shipment, it is an absolute must to take the services of data logging solution providers such as Logmore. They can help aggregate ELD and also help in the collection of light and vessel data to offer unified shipment visibility.

Data logging solution providers like Logmore can also keep the parties abreast of the condition of the shipment, which is a service that is going to be of immense importance to ensure the integrity of the COVID-19 vaccine. They even incorporate and record the lane and touchpoints of the shipment with a simple QR code.

In manual updates, especially in multimodal shipping scenarios, there is a greater chance of error. This error can be mitigated completely with the proper infrastructure that has been created by data logging providers.

For the shipment and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine supply chain action much be uninterrupted and smooth. Having the insurance that nothing will go wrong or delay the process will be of immense importance in these trying times.

Equitable distribution

Identifying the most vulnerable population is the first step that needs to be taken care of to ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccine.

Governments and relief organisations need to plan in advance how to manage the distribution instead of simply waiting for the product to come their way and leaving everything else that needs to be planned for later.

The distribution needs to be carefully planned and prepared for in advance; the vaccine needs to be distributed as fast as possible to avoid further waves of the outbreak.

One major issue that is somewhat foreseen is that those who can pay more will have access to the vaccine earlier than those who cannot. And to avoid physical conflicts of different factions, counties, states, and even countries, the distribution needs to be transparent. More on this below.

To ensure equitable distribution, an organization has been created “Covax Facility” to ensure transparency and equitability of the distribution process. But, understandably, due to the massive demand, they cannot ensure this happens globally. In such a case, we as humans need to stand together and make the equitable decisions ourselves at every level.

Another challenge that we are going to face in the name of the distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccines is that the current massive vaccine distribution models are designed for mass distribution for children. It is going to be a daunting task to expand the system to incorporate the entire adult population. Nonetheless, it is a task that we must rise to and perform.

Cold chain distribution

UNICEF is working on facilities and hardware that can store the vaccine at its required temperature on site from where it will be taken to the population that needs it the most. But, there are not enough viable solutions that will ensure that the vaccine stays under the required temperature in transit.

And this where cold chain distribution solution such as Logmore’s Dry Ice comes in. They can ensure that the vaccine stays at its required temperature in every stage of storage and during transit. They have a multitude of sensors designed to ensure consistent temperature and humidity that are aligned with the storage specifications of the vaccine. Their sensors have the ability to measure and keep a record of the temperature, humidity, shocks, light, and tilt.

The solution provided by UNICEF will only be available for lower-income countries. For countries that have established a high-quality health care system, they will have to ensure the integrity of the vaccine themselves. The responsibilities for keeping the vaccine safe will fall on the distributors, storage facilities, and health care providers.

Storage problems

Another major player in the distribution challenges of the COVID-19 vaccines is storge. The topic has been touched on slightly in the previous sections, but here you will learn about it in detail.

Storage facilities will not only act as a safe and secure place to store the vaccine, but they are also going to be used to ensure the continuous supply of the vaccine. Storage facilities will need to work at full capacity ensuring that the stock for the vaccine is always available and ensure that more doses can be ordered to fill in the place of the product that has left the facility.

Due to the sensitivity of the formula and high demand for the vaccine, there will inevitably be cases of theft and spoilage around the world at every stage of distribution. Storage facilities will need to focus on ensuring that the vaccines stay safe and remain at the required temperature 24/7 while bringing in a continuous supply of the vaccine for the increasing demands.

Ensuring supply resilience is the key to mitigate or tackle this distribution challenge. Using plastic pallets to safely store the vaccine can be one of the many possible solutions to tackle spoilage.

Keeping the required temperature in storage facilities is going to be of great difficulty for storage facilities in countries with little or inconsistent access to power, or locations with prolonged electric outages.

Supply chain transparency

With a growing number of “snake oil traders” in the global community, maintaining supply chain transparency is the key to avoid widespread conspiracy theories related to the COVID-19 vaccine. And sadly, such conspiracy theories are already in abundance among many countries.

The duty of mitigating such theories falls into the hand of the producers of the vaccine, then to the distributor, then to suppliers, and finally to the organizations that will be responsible for administering the vaccine to the general population.

Data logging solution providers such as Logmore can ensure that the transit of COVID-19 vaccine is transparent and untampered with, while also ensuring that the vaccine stays at its required temperature.

With the eyes of the entire global population on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, any issue with the supply chain transparency will turn into a public relations quagmire. In this case, the best option is to prevent such an outcome at all costs by ensuring that the supply chain remains transparent and the integrity of the entire manufacturing and distribution process remains intact.

All the challenges discussed above are just the tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, these are the challenges that can be dealt with via proper planning. There are many more challenges that each entity involved in the entire process of distribution will face.

Hopefully, by coming together as one in these trying times, we will prevail and rid future generations from such a global health threat. We hope that there is no next time for such an outbreak, but if there is, we will be prepared.