Executive Briefings

Opinion: Vaccine Supply Chains Need More Attention

Vaccine supply chains are the Chewbacca of the vaccine world: not because they are hairy (although they can get hairy), but because they are very important yet very underappreciated. And like the Star Wars character Chewbacca, vaccine supply chains are much more complex than they may seem.

Now, with a just-published special issue of the journal Vaccine entitled "Building Next-Generation Immunization Supply Chains," vaccine supply chains are finally getting more deserved time in the limelight. As Han Solo once told Chewbacca, "Laugh it up, fuzzball."

Two international experts on vaccine delivery, Benjamin Schreiber, senior health advisor at UNICEF, and Raja Rao, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, served as guest editors for the special issue along with me (a self-declared Chewbacca expert). Heidi Lasher, Emma Stewart and Erin Fry Sosne of PATH and Amy Wales, formerly of PATH and now of Weber Shandwick, helped pull the issue together. The issue features over 30 publications (actually 31, which is over 30) authored by an all-star lineup of vaccine and vaccine supply chain experts. Here are some examples.

In an editorial entitled "No product, no program: The critical role of supply chains in closing the immunization gap," five key vaccine decision makers (Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa, World Health Organization (WHO); Robin Nandy, principal advisor and chief of immunization, UNICEF; Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Steve Davis, president and CEO, PATH; and Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) frame the issue: there are too many places in the world where vaccines are still not reaching the people who need them most. Compounding the problem, as explained by Celina Hanson, Anupa George, Adama Sawadogo and Schreiber in their literature review, “Is freezing in the vaccine cold chain an ongoing issue?” vaccines are too often damaged by exposure to frozen ice packs before they reach local health clinics or other points of use, hindering efforts to boost coverage. A renewed focus on next-generation supply chains that can safely and reliably manage, store, transport and deliver vaccines to the point of use is vital to closing the immunization gap.

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Now, with a just-published special issue of the journal Vaccine entitled "Building Next-Generation Immunization Supply Chains," vaccine supply chains are finally getting more deserved time in the limelight. As Han Solo once told Chewbacca, "Laugh it up, fuzzball."

Two international experts on vaccine delivery, Benjamin Schreiber, senior health advisor at UNICEF, and Raja Rao, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, served as guest editors for the special issue along with me (a self-declared Chewbacca expert). Heidi Lasher, Emma Stewart and Erin Fry Sosne of PATH and Amy Wales, formerly of PATH and now of Weber Shandwick, helped pull the issue together. The issue features over 30 publications (actually 31, which is over 30) authored by an all-star lineup of vaccine and vaccine supply chain experts. Here are some examples.

In an editorial entitled "No product, no program: The critical role of supply chains in closing the immunization gap," five key vaccine decision makers (Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa, World Health Organization (WHO); Robin Nandy, principal advisor and chief of immunization, UNICEF; Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Steve Davis, president and CEO, PATH; and Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) frame the issue: there are too many places in the world where vaccines are still not reaching the people who need them most. Compounding the problem, as explained by Celina Hanson, Anupa George, Adama Sawadogo and Schreiber in their literature review, “Is freezing in the vaccine cold chain an ongoing issue?” vaccines are too often damaged by exposure to frozen ice packs before they reach local health clinics or other points of use, hindering efforts to boost coverage. A renewed focus on next-generation supply chains that can safely and reliably manage, store, transport and deliver vaccines to the point of use is vital to closing the immunization gap.

Read Full Article