Collaboration key to speeding up vaccine distribution


NATIONS and industries must collaborate and leverage data to ensure rapid vaccine distribution across the globe.

DHL Express Germany GmbH chief commercial officer Katja Busch said logistics and supply chain management play a key role in pandemic management, supported by strong partnerships and data analytics.

“We rolled out new dedicated services for the vaccine distribution at unprecedented speed. Forming strong partnerships and leveraging data analytics will be key.

“We also need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come,” she said in a virtual media briefing yesterday.

In a latest white paper released by DHL, the global logistics company noted all sectors, nations and industries must work together to successfully end the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, learning one year into the pandemic.

The document also revealed that around 10 billion vaccine doses are required globally by the end of 2021 for high levels of immunisation.

However, only four countries have achieved vaccination rates of over 50% to date.

It said many of the remaining countries and territories have a less-developed infrastructure, making the rollout more difficult.

“To speed up vaccine distribution, the areas that need to be looked at include collaboration, inbound flows, last mile and demand maximisation which are essential to meeting the challenge of peak vaccine distribution head-on.

“For safe inbound supply flows, proactive transport-capacity management and sustainable return flows for packaging are needed.

“This is particularly critical as more than 95% of global Covid-19 vaccine doses are produced in just eight countries and need to be delivered worldwide,” the report stated.

DHL Express Malaysia and Brunei MD Julian Neo said recent months of vaccine rolls out have shown that the safe, timely, and efficient transportation of these life-saving treatments is not simply to bring them from point A to point B.

He said a huge effort is needed behind-the-scenes to manage and optimise the entire process, from the manufacturer to the people.

“With our extensive logistics expertise in the life science and healthcare sector, we are proud to have delivered more than two million doses to Malaysia and continue to play an active role in the country’s pandemic response,” he said in the virtual briefing.

As it is, the white paper noted that locally tailored last-mile, ground distribution models should be put into place with a focus on the strategic location of warehouses, the synchronisation of vaccines and ancillaries flow and the number and location of vaccination points.

It said the set-up logistics infrastructure and capacity should be kept on that level as an additional seven billion to nine billion doses of vaccines are necessary annually to keep re-infection rates low and slow down the pace of virus mutations.

The white paper suggested that planning for the future is essential to identify and prevent health crises early through active partnerships, expanded global warning systems, an integrated epidemic-preventions agenda and targeted research and development investments.

“It is also recommended to expand and institutionalise virus containment and countermeasures, for example, digital contact tracing and national stockpiles to ensure strategic preparedness and more efficient response times.

“To facilitate a speedy rollout of medication (diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines), governments and industries should employ ‘ever-warm’ manufacturing capacity, blueprint research, production and procurement plans and expand local deployment capabilities,” it noted.

DHL was part of the response strategy from the beginning, with over 200 million doses of all approved vaccines distributed to over 120 countries and 9,000 operated flights in which more than 350 facilities were involved.

According to DHL, over 50 bilateral and multilateral collaborations with partners in both the pharma and public sector and several new dedicated services were created to stem this task.