What Will the Vaccine Supply Chain Look Like?
How’s this for a challenge: The world will eventually need to manufacture and distribute between 7 and 19 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses globally.
That’s according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which noted in a recent article that eradicating COVID-19 “will require one of the largest supply chain capacities for fighting pandemics ever built.” WEF says blockchain is the tool that will be needed to make sure this massive effort is efficient and equitable.
The organization noted that the effort to fight the current pandemic will dwarf anything before seen, including programs to vaccinate against such scourges as polio and measles. “This vaccine must cover every country in every continent and every person in every age group,” WEF said. “Assuming the approved vaccine requires just one dosage per individual, at least 7 billion doses of the vaccine will need to be in the hands of healthcare workers. Assuming a 20-30% loss during transit and storage, this could mean close to 10 billion doses in the supply chain. Should the vaccine administration require two dosages per individual, the volume needed could top 19 billion vials.”
Aside from its size, the effort will have to meet the needs of high-priority areas where it is needed the most (as opposed to prioritizing whoever can most afford the vaccine) and employ real-time tracking capabilities to protect the viability of the vaccine doses and avoid waste.
“This becomes imperative in calculating the most important parameter, vaccine wastage rate – a key input to anticipate demand, plan manufacturing and supplies, and reducing stock-outs/over-stocks,” WEF said. “At the scale of ~10 billion units, estimates of wastage at every stage of the supply chain and its accuracy can be the key in ensuring or denying access to the vaccine for large segments of population.”
Blockchain is the only way to achieve this delicate yet world-wide juggling act. “For the COVID-19 vaccine, we would need live tracking of every vial with all the storage and handling environment parameters with doubtless integrity and open accessibility by all stakeholders, which can only be done with a decentralized open ledger,” WEF said.