Over the years, we have written about the value of logistics in the supply chain. As well as the resultant opportunities and challenges. But, we now face probably the biggest supply chain challenge ever with the logistics of COVID-19 vaccines. There are so many pieces to fit into the puzzle.
To begin, we offer the following definition from Investopedia:
Logistics refers to the process of managing resource acquisition, storage, and transportation to the final destination. Logistics management involves identifying prospective distributors and suppliers. And determining their effectiveness and accessibility.
Mastering a New Supply Chain: Logistics of COVID-19 Vaccines
The Complexity of Logistics Decisions
These are among the factors complicating COVID-19 vaccine logistics [Note: Here, we focus on the U.S.]:
- These vaccines require various ingredients, some of which may not be available in sufficient quantities.
- The temperature requirements during shipments may be onerous. For example, the Pfizer vaccine must ship at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. And once refrigerated, it has a shelf life of 5 days.
- For three pending vaccines, two doses must be administered. Several days or weeks apart. Thus, tracking those who take the first dose to ensure they receive the second dose involves two issues. One, given the scale of vaccinations, recordkeeping will be onerous. Two, there are privacy concerns.
- With two doses often required, ramping up will be difficult. Consider that to immunize 50 million people, 100 million doses will be required.
- Allocating the vaccines is a state responsibility. Who receives the vaccine first, next, etc.? There are ethical concerns.
- New logistics alliances are necessary.
- Last, but certainly not least, a huge effort will be needed to persuade more people to be vaccinated. Skepticism remains quite high.
Different Logistics Pathways
Next, look at different logistics possibilities.
A Video Overview by CNBC
The process of distributing the vaccine to the 330 million people living in the U.S. is covered very nicely in this video.