Supply chains not ready for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine

The UK’s new Vaccine Taskforce and global governments must closely collaborate with the private sector to ensure a crucial new COVID-19 vaccine can be produced and distributed internationally, according to Belfast Company OCO Global.
Gareth Hagan, Commercial Director at OCO GlobalGareth Hagan, Commercial Director at OCO Global
Gareth Hagan, Commercial Director at OCO Global

Efforts to support the research and production of a vaccine are being significantly stepped up nationally and internationally with the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating that there are 70 potential vaccines in development globally with the UK’s Oxford University programme moving into human trials last Thursday (April 23).

However, Belfast based international trade and investment firm OCO Global which advises the Department for International Trade (DIT) has said that the scalability and distribution both commercially and logistically are very significant impediments that must be overcome to ensure the successful delivery of any new vaccine.

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The last pandemic, that required a concerted global effort, was the H1N1 Flu strain in 2009 which infected an estimated 1.5billion people globally.

With the World Health Organisation stating that a total 4.9 billion doses could be produced in a 12-month period, OCO Global has said the work to improve on that timeline for COVID 19 must start immediately.

Gareth Hagan, Commercial Director at OCO Global, stated that the traditional methods of commercial production and distribution must be set aside, to ensure a vaccine gets to those who need it most.

He explained: “While social distancing and the lockdowns adopted across the globe may prove to be effective in containing the spread of COVID-19, they come at huge cost with unprecedented impact to economies and the entire social fabric of communities. Health, well-being and economic prosperity is eroding at unprecedented levels and the availability of a vaccine and the capability to roll it out, is absolutely fundamental to turning this tide.

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“Support for the scaling up of production facilities, alongside economies collaborating on the allocation and phasing of supply will be required to ensure there is a global solution to a global pandemic. In the COVID-19 period, we have observed that this has not always been the case, whether it be stockpiling of drugs in India, or US states bidding against each other for ventilators.

“COVID-19 has fostered many examples of innovation, ingenuity and collaboration across the globe. Hospitals have been built in days, manufacturing facilities have been re-purposed to build ventilators, competing retailers have collaborated to create shared utilities and hubs to make sure that food supply has been maximised in these extraordinary times.

“The challenge of building a supply chain to distribute an approved vaccine, will require this spirit and more to prevail with governments and the private sector working seamlessly together. Ensuring sufficient production quantities will require an industry-wide model with traditional commercial agendas set aside and the repurposing of supply chain capabilities from other industries to ensure demand is met.

“Despite the colossal global efforts, insufficient time has been one of the most debilitating factors in mitigating the COVID-19 challenges. We cannot allow that to happen again. To ensure that the establishment and delivery of a robust vaccine supply does not suffer from insufficient planning and preparation, global policy makers, production, logistical and trade experts must collaborate and plot a course now that can deliver on the pressing needs of a generation”.

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