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The scramble to distribute viable and approved Covid-19 vaccines has begun in earnest… not in terms of physical distribution but jockeying for position to secure contracts and secure space.



As Keith Winters, Chief Executive at Crane Worldwide Logistics, pointed out this week there are still a lot of variable to take account of: the exact temperature control requirements, the number of doses required, the shelf life, the additional product specifications and the packaging requirements are still largely unknown.

There will be specific supply chain challenges encompassing the storage, international and domestic transportation, and final mile distribution methods of the Covid-19 vaccine. All of this is dependent on the final product specification and the temperature storage needs.

Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic Cargo has also outlined its logistical capabilities of transporting such a vaccine and has introduced a new Pharma Secure service, while the major worldwide players of logistics, such as UPS and DHL, have already stated their readiness to move vaccines – as I outlined last week.

While we wait for regulatory approval for what appear to be several viable vaccines, there will also be a lengthy selection process for pharmaceutical carriers to handle deliveries of vaccine shipments. Cool temperatures will require keen monitoring and IT systems to back up the safety and integrity of the cool chain – so supply chain visibility will be key.

But if logistics has taught us anything this year, it is its ability to respond to the challenge. Look at five of the 15 winners at the Supply Chain Excellence Awards 2020 – all of which were revealed last week. They all won because of the success of projects relating directly to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

To that end, that is why the Logistics Manager Award for Outstanding Achievement was a collective one – given to the Supply Chain Industry Response to Covid-19. As I stated in my speech at the close of the virtual ceremony: “The professionalism shown by the sector in the face of enormous adversity was excellence personified. We felt that this feat needed recognition in itself, and this special award marks just that.”

With the 2021 Supply Chain Excellence Awards celebrating its 25th anniversary I fully expect to see excellence personified in the distribution, logistics and supply chain that will see a vaccine dispersed and administered among the population. What a great feeling it would be to see such success stories sweep the board as the world returns to normal.

Until that day comes, I would highly recommend watching the broadcast of the 2020 Supply Chain Excellence Awards on demand. While it was a shame we could not all gather to celebrate the achievements of the industry this year, seeing the reactions of the winners and hearing their joy in being recognised for their success is the next best thing. Just register to watch below!