The world is living through a global pandemic that very few people could have predicted was branch this far. And, as scientists across the plant race to develop a viable vaccine for COVID-19, there rises another issue – distribution. How will such a desperately needed and vital vaccine be delivered to the many millions of people that need it? And, how will temperature-controlled logistics play a role?
What we expect to see with the COVID-19 vaccine
To date, assessment and testing for the coronavirus vaccine are underway, with companies in Beijing, England, USA and Germany among those trialling various developments. The process by which a vaccine makes it from the scientist laboratory to our doctors is a long and detailed one, involving extensive testing before it is exposed to humans and deemed safe. Some experts expect this window of time to be between 12 – 18 months, leaving many of us in limbo while also providing time for the logistics to be perfected.
What we expect to see is a temperature-sensitive vaccine, much like the ones given for measles, rubella and mumps. When exposed to warmer temperatures or UV light, these medicines become ineffective with their potency being lost permanently. In times such as this state of global emergency, inefficient vaccines have the potential to cause thousands of more deaths. Which is why an effective temperature-controlled logistics plan couldn’t be more important.
Temperature-controlled logistics across the world
While we have a strong and well-funded medical system here in the UK, one of the most significant issues faced during the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be the lack of appropriate refrigerated storage. An article published by the University of Birmingham entitled, ‘How do we prepare for COVID-19 vaccine delivery?’, discusses the need to redesign delivery logistics in many of the world’s poorest countries. In it, they state that according to The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, as little as 10% of facilities in some of the world’s poorest countries have a reliable and consistent electricity supply needed to power refrigerators. In other places, a mere 5% have access to suitable refrigerators required for vaccines. Herein lies the need to get temperature-controlled logistics under control and planned appropriately to ensure vaccines can reach those who desperately need it the most.
The importance of temperature-controlled logistics right now
As soon as the vaccine is ready to be distributed, the need for temperature-controlled couriers and storage is going to become a vital commodity. Facilities able to meet the demands of such a precious and sought-after medicine need to have the capabilities to carry out fast, accurate and high-quantity deliveries to health facilities around the country. It is also imperative that we support the temperature-control needs of other countries, lending our knowledge and services where necessary.
As a nation, we will get through this.