COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: A Global Logistics Nightmare

By Lindsay Wertman, WFCF Blog Editor on Feb 12, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: A Global Logistics Nightmare

Traditionally vaccines have required years of research and testing, allowing for adequate time to form detailed distribution plans. However, amid the current pandemic, in less than 12 months, research teams all over the world have worked intensely to develop safe and effective vaccines that protect from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Now there are a variety of COVID-19 vaccines being made available to the general population and so enters the profound complications of delivery. Every day that goes by, we are closer to more vaccines being cleared for distribution, and while this means tremendous opportunity, this also has turned into one of the biggest logistical nightmares, quite possibly the largest logistics effort since World War II.

At present, there are currently two vaccines that are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:

Around the world there are another 67 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and 20 have reached the final stages of testing. At least 89 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals. (Source: The New York Times)

But while all vaccines are not created equal, neither are their paths to reaching the general population. As of February 2021, over one hundred million doses had been administered worldwide, but with a global population of more than 7.8 billion, we have a long way to go. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated three-quarters of all COVID-19 vaccinations are present in only 10 countries. According to WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, as of Feb. 5, 2021, “Around 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose”. (Source: Premium Times)

Some countries have already begun the process of vaccinating healthcare professionals and their high-risk population, while others have no vaccine distribution plan in sight. Unfortunately, many developing nations cannot rely on their own governments to get them the resources they need to ensure a steady distribution of vaccines.

A country-by-country forecast was released on Feb. 3, 2021 by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization; and UNICEF (Source: World Health Organization). Under the plan, countries will be receiving doses in proportion to their population size and organizations such as UNICEF have recently announced that they have concluded a long-term supply agreement with the Serum Institute of India giving it access to the intellectual property of vaccines created by AstraZeneca and Novavax. This will allow it and its procurement partners to access up to 1.1 billion doses of vaccines for around 100 low- and lower-middle-income countries, at roughly $3 per dose. (Source: devex)

While movements such as these can mean more vaccination accessibility for vulnerable communities, new research is suggesting that wealthier nations may end up snapping up the majority of doses of the leading vaccines before these distribution plans have the opportunity to move forward, especially as availability still remains low. Therefore, it is vital that organizations are working collaboratively together to ensure that proper resources are being allocated toward equitable global distribution. To learn more about what the World Forgotten Children Foundation (WFCF) is doing to support vaccine distribution, please visit WFCF’s Current Funding Campaigns page here.

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