January 12, 2021

Securing COVID-19 Vaccine Shipping Quality

The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. To ever go back to normal, the world needs a reliable vaccine. Vaccine development is ready, but the real challenge is safe, global distribution. 
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The World Health Organization reports a shocking 50% global vaccine wastage. Vaccine security and the amount of tools available for reducing vaccine wastage are increasing constantly, helping decrease the amount of waste constantly, but the world still has a long way to go.

Vaccines are vulnerable to multiple factors by nature. Variables from humidity to light are capable of damaging vaccine products. Between different vaccines, the most common vulnerability is to temperature levels and changes both within and between them. Most vaccines require a stable temperature within a narrow range to remain usable and effective. 

The typical allowed temperature range for vaccines is two to eight degrees Celcius (36°F... 46°F), but certain vaccines, such as Pfizer’s new Covid-19 vaccine, require deep freeze temperatures close to -100°C (-148°F). The vaccines need to be kept in dry ice, in temperatures as low as -80°C during transport. Over 15 billion doses will be shipped over the course of three years. This scale of extreme cold chains has not been seen before so it's more needed than ever to make sure every shipment stays within the required conditions. With millions of doses shipped globally, the challenge set for distribution chains is unprecedented. 

While Moderna’s vaccine poses less of a challenge, it has to be kept at “only” a freezing temperature of -20°C (-4°F), still requiring the global supply chains to update their equipment to match the needed scale.

The uninterrupted series of refrigerated production, storage, transport, and distribution of temperature-sensitive products is known as cold chain or cold chain monitoring. A cold chain provides a temperature-controlled supply chain of products to make sure their quality isn’t impacted during their journeys. Breaches of allowed temperature thresholds can cause the vaccine potency to decrease. In the most severe cases, the vaccine becomes ineffective or even harmful to the user.

With the current world population, getting everyone vaccinated would require 15.8 billion doses, if two doses are needed per person for immunity. According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 50% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity

Even if we laid our trust to the idea that half the population having immunity would be enough for a global herd immunity, we would have almost 8 billion doses being shipped worldwide. Except when we take the previous numbers reported by the WHO into account, as the 50% wastage immediately doubles the needed amount of doses again.

 

The environmental and humanitarian effects of this kind of waste are already catastrophic enough, but let’s consider the economical loss as well: even if we assume the vaccines at a non-profit cost of around $10 per unit, the wasted investment is immense.

With the unprecedented scale of vaccines requiring strict cold chain upkeep, the world has to learn away from the old methods of large-scale refrigeration.

Resilience, reliability, and sustainability are the keywords for the future cold chain. United Nation’s Environment Programme’s Niklas Hagelberg says that ”The whole system must be optimized to address the issue of food and medicine loss in a way that returns value to smallholder farmers and businesses operating across the supply chains, as they build back from the economic impact of COVID-19. Only then can we make historic leaps forward to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine globally.”

Conclusion

The global loss of pharmaceutical goods due to temperature fluctuations lies between 20-40%. We simply cannot afford that. We have to be able to find better solutions.

Every single vaccine saved takes us one step closer to getting rid of the pandemic. The Covid-19 vaccine will be transported all over the world – in planes, in trucks, through different warehouses, in tropical temperatures. 

Logmore combines reliability, security and convenience, which makes it the solution for Covid-19 vaccine shipment monitoring.

Let's make sure every single vaccine is safe to use.