COVID-19 vaccine approval and distribution is expected to happen by the end of December, with more than 20 million doses delivered across the United States, but how do companies and public health agencies get vaccines to the people who need them?
The answer is the vaccine cold chain – a supply chain that can keep vaccines in tightly controlled temperatures from the moment they are made to the moment that they are administered to a person.
Anna Nagurney, operations management, has studied and discussed the topic of supply chains and potential challenges.
"The current vaccine cold chain is not up to the task and expanding the supply chain is not going to be easy." ~ Anna Nagurney, Business Insider India
In an article written for The Conversation, Nagurney writes, "just like a fresh piece of fish, vaccines are highly perishable products and must be kept at very cold, specific temperatures. The majority of COVID-19 vaccines under development – like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – are new RNA-based vaccines. If they get too warm or too cold they spoil. And, just like fish, a spoiled vaccine must be thrown away." She adds, every vaccine produced could save a life and bring the world closer to a return to normalcy, but getting the vaccines to where they need to be is not going to be easy. Preparing and fortifying the cold chain for vaccine distribution will ensure that vaccines are not wasted and will help the world get through this pandemic sooner."
Anna Nagurney Eugene M. Isenberg Chair in Integrative Studies, Isenberg School of Management
Anna Nagurney studies network systems with applications including congested urban transportation networks, disaster relief and supply chains