Preparing Supply Chain Networks for Vaccine Transportation

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed supply chain networks and the way businesses operate. Now, almost every company that has a supply chain is leaning into a more flexible and agile business model. Everyone is aware that nothing is certain, and supply chains have gained more resiliency because of the uncertainty. There is another question many logistics managers are worried about: what should I do when the COVID-19 vaccine arrives? Preparing their supply chains to transport and distribute coronavirus antidote is becoming a central focus of supply chain management.

It has been announced recently that American company Pfizer has successfully tested a COVID-19 vaccine that demonstrated to be effective for 90% of patients, and Massachusetts-based company Moderna is reporting an estimated 94.5 percent effectiveness in testing of their own vaccine. While the official release of a vaccine is not happening yet and studies have yet to be concluded, the day is coming closer.

What are the key challenges of a vaccine supply chain?

It’s apparent that when the vaccine is released, the freight market will face enormous pressure primarily because air travel will be severely disrupted. If the idea of the ripple effects of a vaccine being released doesn’t horrify you, look at the numbers: according to IATA, 8,000,747 flights are required to sustain every person on a planet with a single dose of vaccine. Combine this with the fact that vaccines can only be transported in a cold climate with special equipment. Additionally, this transportation chain will include not only the vaccine itself, but everything else needed for vaccination as well, like glass bottles and needles. Even with all the logistics companies in the world working on deliverance, it will definitely be a challenge.

Essentially, it’s in everyone’s best interest to launch mass production of the vaccine and distribute it across the world as fast as possible to finally end our collective nightmare. So many companies, whether they are related to medical transportation or not, are already setting up strategies to adapt their supply chain for this purpose. UPS has recently announced their initiative to be involved in the vaccine distribution network.

Among other anticipated challenges is the price of transportation. Potential issues between governmental regulations and private organizations can also hinder the process of transport. For transportation companies, the key focus should be freezers and other equipment, capacity, and last-mile shipping strategy, especially for the regions with poor infrastructure.

Hopefully, the outcome is positive once a vaccine is released and companies will quickly adapt ways to safely distribute it across the globe.