UPS’s director of vaccine logistics says US delivery of Covid injectables faces new challenges for second year

President of UPS Healthcare told CNBC, Tuesday marked a year since the first shipments.

“Manufacturers are starting to think about how they change their formulations,” said Wes Wheeler, who leads the vaccine logistics effort for the global carrier. “When that happens, inventory becomes an issue, logistics becomes an issue, and essentially performance becomes an issue.”

UPS and FedEx are partners of the United States government in Covid vaccine distribution, which began under what was originally known as “Operation Warp Speed” during the Trump administration.

In the past 12 months, carriers have delivered more than 594 million doses afterward Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson domestically produced vaccines, the on-time delivery rate is 99%.

According to a CNBC analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, a minimum of 115 million more vaccines will need to be distributed to meet the goal of 70% of Americans being fully immunized and boosted. About 27% of fully immunized Americans had received a booster dose as of December 13, according to the CDC.

“The key is flow, it’s all about flow,” now-retired US Army General Gustave Perna told CNBC, referring to how to keep the vaccine rollout. Perna was executive director of Operation Warp Speed ​​and continued to serve under Biden’s administration before retiring in July.

“Vaccines are available and will be delivered when ordered. The important thing is to just order what you need when you need it and it will be there. If someone is trying to stock up on vaccines, bring too many. just in case, “That’s when it will matter because you’re probably taking it to other places when it’s needed and you might not be using as much as you think. So you want flow,” Perna said.

Wheeler agrees that “flow” is key, saying discrepancies between state vaccination, distribution and storage plans can also create post-delivery logistical problems. “There’s going to be a lot of vaccines that are likely to have to be returned or destroyed because they’re not used and they’re kept in storage past their expiry date. I think that’s our next stage, to deal with it. that matter as best as possible.”

Wheeler said the international vaccine effort is also a priority, particularly in Africa, where less than 10% of the population fully vaccinated. UPS is supporting drone vaccine distribution of Zipline startups in Ghana and other countries. “We’re trying to reach the rest of the world,” Wheeler said. “We have a long way to go. We are here to help and we want to do more,” he added. UPS’s director of vaccine logistics says US delivery of Covid injectables faces new challenges for second year

Emma James

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