Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine – Challenges and Opportunities

In next couple of months, we will complete a year of entering a new world.  A world where, self-imposed restrictions on our travels and remote working, became a new norm.  Same time last year, we were all out exploring remote parts of the world, meeting new people and conducting business, across continents. All that changed with the emergence and spread of Coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and every country, without exception, imposed travel restrictions and quite a few even entered strict lockdown. This has impacted all of us, business from large to small, rich and poor and the ones who were vulnerable, have been hit the hardest.  It has pushed the world into recession and the actual impact will be known once we are out of our cages but current estimates run into trillion of dollars.


The medical professionals have been struggling in treating patients with both existing and repurposed drugs, but none of them as of date have really proved to be an effective line of treatment, against this infectious disease. The only hope now rests on a vaccine to get us back to our regular lives. There are currently more than 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under various stages of development globally, with a number of these in the human trial phase.  The whole world has been eagerly looking up for someone to pass the clinical trials and possibly all of us to have the vaccines the very next day.

Although clinical trials will get us pass the stage of having a vaccine, the most critical part of it will still remain and this is around manufacturing and distribution of this vaccine. To vaccinate every single person on this planet, we will need 7.8 billion dosages, considering we need a single shot per person. Both manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine, brings extreme challenges in transporting, with some vaccines that may need to be kept at temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius.

Technology can play a very important enabler in quick and effective distribution of the vaccine, as currently there is no platform that exist, that can cover smooth execution, along the supply chain. Countries will need to prioritize and track the distribution of vaccine and possibly also create digital medical records, which may be required, if we have to remove travel restrictions. This is the critical time for planning an effective distribution strategy of the vaccine, right from removing the bottlenecks around manufacturing them on large scales, create databases, identifying most vulnerable who need to be immunized first and implement appropriate technology, for an effective logistics and tracking.

Covid-19 is not the first pandemic that we had and will also not be the last one. Our learning from this will enable us to be better prepared in fighting the next pandemic more effectively, by creating strong logistics platforms and implementing robust technology.