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Proper Shipping and Tracking of COVID-19 Vaccines to Prevent Waste

Every year, more than half of vaccines go to waste globally because of temperature control, logistics, and shipment-related issues, according to Reuters. Given the immense scale and magnitude of the global COVID-19 crisis and subsequent vaccine rollout, effectively tracking inoculations throughout the supply chain all the way to the arm of each immunized person is paramount. A failure to accurately track vaccine processes could delay shipments or lead patients to miss vital second doses of the vaccine.

To help aid in the global COVID-19 vaccination effort, everyone from pharmaceutical manufacturers, shipping and logistics professionals, and major carriers have come together to implement an extensive distribution campaign. As countries across the globe continue to build up vaccine capacity, many governments have developed systems to track COVID-19 vaccine delivery to trace every dose shipped to various locales.

In the U.S., for example, the government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) allocates every COVID-19 vaccine dose ordered by states and tracks them through shipping companies  to hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and other vaccination sites. Assorted systems then track who gets the vaccine and report back to the federal government where the data is housed in a central software platform called Tiberius that enables public health officials to make sure the limited vaccine supply is rationed carefully and fairly. As USA Today reports, Tiberius monitors details of where the vaccine moves and who has received injections – however, personal identifiers are removed before authorities view the data. OWS and the CDC use Tiberius to calculate weekly allotments to states, territories, and jurisdictions, taking into account inventory, storage capacity, and target populations. Doing so helps keep vaccine doses from piling up or getting wasted between the manufacturer and the vaccination site.

To develop the proper capacity for vaccine distribution and administration, each healthcare site or contingent involved should ensure they meet the following requirements:

  • The readiness of appropriate temperature-controlled facilities and equipment
  • The availability of personnel trained to handle time- and temperature-sensitive vaccines
  • The development of comprehensive monitoring capabilities to maintain the integrity of the vaccines

As more is learned about the vaccines and the initial stages of the vaccination rollout move forward, along with adequately preparing health professionals to administer the vaccine efficiently and equitably, continually working to find ways to optimize vaccine distribution to avoid costly mistakes and prevent waste will be critical.

The massive undertaking of this effort in the U.S. alone – with the attempt to deliver about 500 million doses of the vaccines nationwide – provides plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong, so careful consideration must be given for effective vaccine distribution. While Pfizer has transported its product via dry ice thermal shippers with remote temperature monitoring systems installed, the protocol for Moderna’s vaccine is completely different; it cannot be stored on dry ice at all but can be stored in a freezer or refrigerator. Understanding these nuances and properly moving the vaccines from warehouses to trucks to rural areas, pharmacies, public health clinics, hospitals, and long-term-care facilities creates a substantial operational challenge.

Shipping of temperature-sensitive materials like the COVID-19 vaccine demands keen attention to detail to comply with safety regulations and strict cold chain requirements. Correct labeling and proper storage of pharmaceutical parcels are key, but nothing is more crucial than carrier compliance given the increased training and safety requirements carriers need to move perishable goods effectively and efficiently. Risking error by not automating the compliance process can be both costly and dangerous.

Multi-carrier parcel shipping software such as Logistyx TME helps optimize parcel shipping and mitigate delivery risk by improving the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of the supply chain. Whether shipping domestically or worldwide, TME guarantees carrier compliance, streamlines transportation execution, and monitors parcel delivery movements – all critical factors when shipping life-saving treatments and vaccines.

To learn how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you effectively plan for and manage complex supply chain events, contact us today.

Carriers Boost Flexibility to Aid in Rapid COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

The availability of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines came just in time to lift holiday spirits. The global vaccine distribution campaign represents one of the most significant logistical challenges the world has seen in decades, and many in the logistics industry are working together to get the job done. The effort to vaccinate the globe relies on many people beyond chemists, scientists, pharmacists, and healthcare personnel. Factory workers, truck drivers, pilots, and carriers are hard at work ensuring safe and efficient delivery of these vital inoculations to locations across the world.

While parcel networks have already been operating in peak season-like conditions for months, carriers were prepared and pledged that vaccines would take precedence over delivering holiday orders. Carriers have reserved enough space in their networks to handle the expected shipments of vaccines, with many ensuring they get the fast-lane treatment meant for priority packages, with a commitment for next-day delivery. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, carriers even waived some label printing requirements to increase the speed with which vaccines could be distributed.

On the heels of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the vaccine, major carriers UPS and FedEx delivered 2.9 million Pfizer doses during the first week of availability in the U.S. Based on plans developed with the U.S. federal government’s Operation Warp Speed for vaccine distribution, FedEx and UPS have roughly divided the nation in two, with FedEx supplying the western states and UPS those in the east. Upon EUA of the Moderna vaccine, Operation Warp Speed also allocated 5.9 million Moderna doses and 2 million more Pfizer doses for delivery the week of December 21.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, many major carriers have been active in their relief efforts leading up to their roles in vaccine distribution, including delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) and humanitarian aid shipments on a global level.

2020 has been full of unparalleled unknowns, many of which came to a head in the final month of the year with the fastest vaccine development and global rollout known to date, leaving supply chain leaders to act quickly. Undoubtedly, adopting an agile approach to shipping to create a flexible supply chain has helped these carriers work more effectively with pharmaceutical and healthcare shippers to put this massive vaccine distribution plan into action. The extraordinary steadiness from carriers supporting an unprecedented peak shipping season and vaccine distribution has heralded a happy holiday and a hopeful new year.

At Logistyx, we’re grateful to the more than 550 carrier partners within our extensive carrier services network for their part in the successful global distribution of these critical COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Unique Logistics Preparations for COVID-19 Test Kit Distribution

Since the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, testing has been a key factor in trying to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many companies worked quickly to manufacture various types of tests to effectively detect and diagnose COVID-19, whether for use in medical laboratories, hospitals, doctors offices, universities, or even at home, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorizing the first rapid, over-the-counter home coronavirus test.
Regardless of where the test kits get distributed, just as healthcare shippers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other industry professionals had to develop unique global logistics strategies for COVID-19 vaccines, similar considerations are required to build the proper transport infrastructure for COVID-19 test kits. Shipping some of these high-tech test kits entails a complex process; so many diagnostic testing manufacturers and global carriers rely on parcel transportation management technology to boost their capabilities to effectively transport COVID-19 test kits.
Since as early as April, Logistyx has been working with several pharmaceutical and life sciences customers and carrier partners to plan for the challenges of rapidly – and safely – distributing testing kits worldwide. This has included choosing the right carriers to handle the specific requirements of test kit shipments, as well as planning for the bulk storage and return of specialized dry ice containers, which some companies use to ship test kits.

Build a global carrier library

Any organization managing distribution of test kits needs to rapidly build an agile and global library of carriers to cover all potential destinations. In many cases, shippers had to quickly identify and go-live with multiple new carriers that specialize in new geographic locations – with back-up carriers ready to go in case the first choice does not perform as required or to avoid delays in transit.
Under normal circumstances, it would typically take a month for a customer to gain approval to go live with a new carrier. However, due to the critical nature of the shipments, Logistyx brought this down to just one to two weeks without compromising on the rigorous requirements of this process.

Complex data verification

To gain approval for a shipper to distribute parcels with a new carrier, Logistyx first must prove that shipper’s labels and electronic data are compliant with the specifications required by the carrier. In international shipping, each carrier has its own quirks when it comes to data, and the verification of this is critical, especially if this is the first time that hazardous materials, such as dry ice, are being shipped. If the data is incorrect, it can result in costly errors and delays.
The data verification process involves a sequential flow, which starts by processing a few orders in a test environment with real data. After testing the data, shippers next need to check that the physical label meets all requirements. Is the ink black enough to be easily read by the carriers’ systems? Is there the right amount of shine on the labels? Are all the right codes being used?
ebook logistyx future-proofing-supply-chainA seemingly simple 2” x 6” label with a 2D barcode contains vital and complex data, including routing codes, information on hazardous materials, and payment terms that must be accurate. Shippers do not want a time- and temperature-sensitive shipment to go astray because the routing code sends it to the wrong hub.

To ensure test kits can be shipped with urgency, Logistyx reviewed this process with various customers to ensure shipments are ready and labelled with carrier compliant information to enter the supply chain upon authorization.

Real-time visibility into critical shipments

Of course, preparing for shipping is just one piece of the puzzle. Full visibility that enables proactive management of shipments, with real-time information regarding location, delays, and delivery through the Business Intelligence function of a transportation management system (TMS) for parcel shipping is vital when dealing with time (and sometimes temperature) sensitive goods.
Logistyx TME helps optimize parcel shipping and the distribution of vital medical devices like test kits by improving the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of the supply chain. Likewise, a digitized supply chain improves a company’s ability to anticipate risk, improve transparency and coordination across the supply chain, and manage any issues that arise from increasing complexity. When it comes to global distribution of test kits, vaccines, or parcels of any kind, TME helps shippers minimize disruptions and rapidly resolve those that do occur.
Contact us today to learn more about how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you quickly adjust supply chain operations for increased agility, efficiency, and scalability.