PPP for COVID-19 vaccine logistics: DHL

DHL, working with McKinsey & Company as analytics partner, has published a white paper on delivering stable logistics for vaccines and medical goods during COVID-19, and future health crises. A framework is provided to tackle future health emergencies beyond COVID-19.

Logistics providers are challenged to rapidly establish medical supply chains to deliver serums of unparalleled amounts of more than 10 billion doses worldwide with first emergency use authorisations for COVID-19 vaccines expected to be effective in the last quarter of 2020. Currently, more than 250 vaccines across seven platforms are being developed and trialled. As COVID-19 vaccines have leapfrogged development phases, stringent temperature requirements (up to -80°C) are likely to be imposed for certain vaccines to ensure that their efficacy is maintained during transportation and warehousing. This poses novel logistics challenges to the existing medical supply chain that conventionally distributes vaccines at ~2–8°C. In the paper, DHL evaluates how the transport of vaccines as highly temperature-sensitive product can be managed effectively to combat the further spread of the virus.

The scope of this task is immense
To provide global coverage of COVID-19 vaccines, up to ~200,000 pallet shipments and ~15 million deliveries in cooling boxes as well as ~15,000 flights will be required across the various supply chain set-ups. Share the experience of operating during one of the biggest health crises in recent history, in order to develop strategies in an ever-more connected world, Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL, explains, “The COVID-19 crisis required governments, businesses, and the logistics industry alike to adapt quickly to new challenges. To protect lives against the pandemic, governments have moved towards a more active role in medical supply chains. Over the past few months, we have demonstrated that sufficient planning and appropriate partnerships within the supply chain can play a key role as governments work to secure critical medical supplies during health emergencies such as this.”

Future public health crisis management to include PPP
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, demand for medical supplies has surged. For example, UNICEF sourced 100 times more face masks and 2,000 times more medical gloves than in 2019. Bringing medical supplies from their distant sources to use at the frontline has been one of the most crucial activities in pandemic response management in the first phase of the health emergency. For PPE specifically, inbound logistics were a major challenge due to geographically concentrated production, limited airfreight capacity and a lack of inbound quality checks. In order to ensure stable medical supply in a future health crisis, a comprehensive setup of public health crisis strategies and structures needs to be established by governments with partnerships from both public and private sectors.