Role of the logistics industry in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

After a wild year that 2020 was, the arrival of the covid-19 vaccine, at last, got along a great deal of relief for everyone. However, the already-stretched supply chains are now up for a more significant challenge- to execute an unprecedented worldwide distribution of the vaccine.

What we are witnessing today is the post-pandemic phase shape the global supply chains. Several new supply chain trends are sure to emerge through this phase and beyond. Chances are these trends will yet again impact the way supply chains operate and pave the way for further growth. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: Monumental task for the logistics industry

How is the air cargo industry ensuring that the vaccine reaches its due destination safely and soundly? 

A news report by The Hindu Business Line stated, “The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that it will take the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 flights to carry enough single-dose vaccinations to inoculate the globe’s 7.8 billion people—a monumental task.” 

Moreover, the task’s magnitude is just one of the many challenges the industry is facing today. Due to most of the vaccines’ low-temperature requirements, the air cargo logistics industry is facing a massive challenge concerning cold chain transportation. Also, the transport of these vaccines has to be executed amid a high degree of scrutiny by manufacturers and governments to ensure safe and efficient delivery. 

Another aspect that logistics service providers have to take care of is the varying temperature requirements of vaccines by different manufacturers. Service providers need to ensure that Pfizer’s vaccines are transported and stored at  -70°C whereas the Moderna and Astra Zeneca vaccines can remain stable between 2°C to 8°C. These challenges and the world’s dependence on air cargo for the vaccine have made it critical to ensure the cold chain’s integrity. 

Demand for marine reefer containers to spike for Covid-19 vaccine export 

Due to the vaccine’s urgency, air transport is the most preferred mode of transportation at present. However, due to air cargo’s limitations, there will be a significant spike in demand for marine reefer containers to transport the vaccine in the time ahead. 

It is estimated that around 60,000 reefer containers would be required to distribute the vaccine over two to three years.

Till date, shippers used reefer containers to transport pharma products and perishables. If a significant number of the existing reefer containers get diverted for vaccine distribution, it will in all probability, alter the cold chain landscape. Yet another possibility is that new containers will enter the market to meet the surge in demand.

All of this has made it imperative for the community to embrace technology to close the gaps in the cold chain. 

Technology to the rescue 

To have end-to-end visibility into the vaccine’s distribution journey, pharmaceutical supply chain professionals must easily access crucial shipment data. 

The best solution here is to adopt a cloud-based tracking platform that can be accessed via smartphones and multiple systems simultaneously. These platforms have made door-to-door tracking possible and offered a great deal of flexibility in capturing data and sharing automated journey updates. 

Right from the initial handoff of the vaccine from manufacturer to the logistics services provider through the several touchpoints until the vaccine reaches its destination, with the right kind of tracking solution at hand, the shipper can stay on top of the process. 

These solutions are built to eliminate data silos and enable all parties involved in the cold chain to monitor the location and condition of a shipment at all times; facilitating informed decision making.

Track your shipments for free with GoComet’s container tracking tool here. 

Connectivity, flexibility and Scalability to lead the way 

Delivering billions and billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s population is undoubtedly one of the enormous transportation challenges the cargo industry will ever face. 

Several factors are at play simultaneously with the number of parties involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain and the global nature of vaccine manufacturing and distribution. Deploying innovative freight management system will provide flexibility, accessibility, and scalability in operations. It will enable multiple parties to participate in supply chain management effortlessly.  

If you would like to find out how GoComet’s intelligent TMS can help you build supply chain resilience and effectively handle the challenges of today and tomorrow, reach out to us here today. 

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