Published On: Sun, Nov 29th, 2020

Experts Warn of Unprecedented Challenges in Distributing Vaccine

Supplying even a small percentage of the world's nearly 8 billion people with a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available will be an unprecedented supply chain challenge, NBC News reported Tuesday.

“It's going to be an extraordinary logistic challenge,” said David Salisbury, the British government's former director of immunization. “I just hope it works.”

Although vaccines have been delivered worldwide before, this effort will be much more difficult than any other in history, as never before has the demand for one set of drugs been so immediate or universal.

Experts are warning even supplying worldwide only those considered a high priority – health workers, the elderly, and the infirm – will be extremely difficult, because not only do the shipments have to be done at unprecedented quantities and speeds, they must also keep the drugs cold enough to remain effective.

Even if a vaccine can be maintained at between 35-46 degrees Fahrenheit, 30% of the world's population would not have access to it due to the “limited cold chain infrastructure” in vast areas, according to a study by courier giant DHL and management consultancy firm McKinsey and Co.

In addition to these and numerous other logistical nightmares, Michel Zaffran, the WHO's outgoing director of polio eradication, insists trust will be an even bigger challenge.

“There needs to be a lot of communication with the communities, for them to understand what the vaccine is about, for them to accept the vaccines,” he said.

His concern is backed up by an Ipsos poll of 18,000 people in 27 countries, which found more than 25% said they would not take any vaccine approved by regulators.

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