While there is a promise for a viable vaccine, and the entire process has proven to be crucial to the reemergence from the pandemic, finding a way to distribute doses to the people is also critical. This is where the efficiency of the supply chain comes in. It means that the manufacturing and supply chain must be up and running efficiently more than it was before. Tools and capabilities such as blockchain and the internet of things must also be leveraged in such times to ensure that the supply chain is transparent and effective. This will be able to guarantee the distribution of vaccines from the manufacturer to the people in need.
The global supply chain is in a place where it has never found itself before. The industry is hurting under the weight of the pandemic because of factory closures in major countries. With the development of a possible vaccine now progressing faster, there is a need to invest in the infrastructure that will help in the global distribution doses equitably as soon as the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective. The viable candidate for a vaccine must cover every continent, each country, and every individual. Assuming that one dose will be required per individual, at least 7 billion doses of vaccine will need to be handed into the hands of the medical care workers. If two dosages are needed per person, the volume required will be around 15 billion vials.
The supply chain for such a critical vaccine needs to be different from the conventional one. For starters, it must be equitable and free from geopolitical and economic influences. This is so despite these factors being the top aspects that will influence the development of the vaccine in the first place. An equitable supply chain can only be achieved by using technology, which ensures verifiability, immutability, and integrity, and no single source of control. This will mean that vested interests in the vaccine are fought as much as possible. Therefore, blockchain and distributed ledger technology will be necessary to enable transparency and immutability.
With the help of blockchain technology and IoT, the COVID-19 vaccine will be tracked from the source to destination in real-time. IoT will also measure crucial parameters such as the temperature, storage levels, and stocks, among other crucial aspects. Again blockchain and the IoT will ensure that the vaccine does not fall into the wrong hands along the supply chain. With these technologies, wastage, that has always affected the supply chain, will be reduced.
Although blockchain and the internet of things have not been deployed on a large scale, using it to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine will be a game-changer. This technology has proven to be useful in other industries that have deployed it on a small scale to enable real-time tracking of shipments. It will ensure that only authorized parties receive real-time data of shipments, and this data will not be altered.
The efforts to leverage technology are already in the process. However, with the coronavirus pandemic already here with us, these efforts need to be fast-tracked since a vaccine without a proper supply chain will not only be expensive but may cost more lives as well.