By PJ O’Connor, Vice President, Client Initiatives, OC Reilly Inc.

(Jan. 11, 2021)–With the rapid development of effective, safe vaccines to inoculate people against the COVID-19 virus, light at the end of this pandemic tunnel can at last be seen.  But turning the vaccine into widespread vaccinations depends on a smart, efficient, smoothly running supply chain.

PwC’s Health Research Institute has identified three factors that could influence on-time delivery and vaccinations:

Proper storage and transport – One of the leading vaccines is built with a new nucleic acid-based technology (mRNA) that requires storage at temperatures of minus-80 Celsius.  But specialized transport and storage channels to manage the ultra-low temperatures may be available by cell and gene therapies with similar requirements.  Also, the mRNA vaccine has already been successfully transported to clinical trial sites across the U.S., so manufacturers can build upon these existing frameworks.

The last mile – For the COVID-19 vaccine, challenges in the last mile of delivery could come down to manufacturers’ ability to address shifting consumer patterns, as federal and state governments prioritize groups to be vaccinated.  As the scope widens, consumer preferences could become a major factor in vaccine acceptance and minimizing pandemic fatigue – both essential to beat the virus.

Advanced analytics – Manufacturers could use existing software tools to help model the supply chain, identifying the most optimal distribution systems and how those could evolve through the pandemic.  Additionally, they could collaborate with providers, pharmacists, and others in the supply chain to share data, such as the number of vials shipped, expected delivery dates, any potential delays in real time, and other aspects impacting vaccine delivery.

The pandemic has uncovered flaws in various systems, but also has led to breakthroughs in medicine and disease prevention.  As the world starts on the final leg of this difficult journey, wise and diligent supply chain decisions and actions will carry us to victory.

© 2021 OC Reilly, Inc.