COVID-19 vaccine: how will the supply & logistics will look like?

It immediately appeared that the BioNTech(licensed by Pfizer) vaccine news of last week would trigger a logistics challenge of gargantuan proportions.

As a reminder, usual drug distribution mechanisms are not suited to cater for possibly billions of jabs over the next 12 to 24 months. The fact that the first vaccine to reach market must be stored at a somewhat colder temperature (-70-80°C) than the usual 0 to -10°C has raised questions about who could benefit, but this is likely to be short-lived as the next in line vaccine (Moderna) would survive ambient temperatures.

There are extra logistics issues derived from uncertain priorities (health and armed forces first? or old and weak first?) and the operational risks associated with anti-vaxxers and their conspiracy obsessions possibly associated with violence.

None of the above is a surprise to the suppliers of goods and services to the pharma industry. They stand to benefit from the very magnitude of the effort to physically get the vaccine to where it is needed as well as from the repeat nature of the demand (2-injection vaccination).

Those suppliers can be broken down into 2 blocks:

1/ Suppliers of vials/needles/agents and third-party manufacturers of the vaccine (CDMOs).

2/ Providers of transport, distribution and storage services and suppliers of related equipment.

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