The Key Challenges of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

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How many vaccines have been distributed?

The world is going into its greatest vaccination campaign in history with the start of the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout. More than 400 million doses have been signed up for distribution, and more than 100 million people have already received their shots. According to the estimates of health officials, it could take around five more months to get 70-80% of the US population vaccinated, which is considered a safe quantity for going back to normal life.

Dr. Katherine O'Brien, WHO’s Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals, commented on the matter in the recent WHO article: “I can’t overemphasize the importance of that: we have to uphold the absolute highest international standards. The trade-off between benefit and risk has to be so clear and driven by data, in terms of benefit because vaccines, by their nature, are given to healthy people.”

“The cold chain planning is a critical element because vaccines have to be deployed with attention to the temperature that they have to be maintained at in order retain their potency. You can't make a mistake on that.”

Vaccine logistics: Key supply chain challenges

With all the great success and efficiency of the approved vaccine providers, there are still challenges with the vaccine supply chain and transportation.

Vaccine cold storage

One of the main complications of vaccine distribution is that each provider has its own cold storage requirements which need to be met with strict compliance. For example, Pfizer vaccine temperature storage is comparably extremely low: -80ºC to -60ºC (-112ºF to -76ºF). For the Moderna vaccine, storage temperature is -25°C and -15°C (-13°F and 5°F), while vastly acquired in Europe Oxford\AstraZenteca climate conditions are 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit). Companies that transport these shots need to be sure to stay compliant with the temperature requirements.

Vaccine cold chain: capacity issues

With stringent storage requirements and a global surge of vaccine distribution, companies struggle to sustain the need for refrigerated capacity and storage with appropriate temperature regulations. There is an additional strain created by the vaccine demand - a shortage of other essential medical supplies as needles, alcohol wipes, and other critical PPE equipment. Working with a reliable 3PL ensures that vaccine and other temperature-sensitive shipments are transported in the safest and efficient manner. PLS Logistics is already working with vaccine distributors, so our customers can fully rely on our vaccine logistics management capabilities.

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