By Noah Strangway.
As the world moves closer to approving COVID-19 vaccines, we face the biggest distribution challenge in history. In Canada alone, the federal government plans to order more than 250 million doses from multiple providers. Then comes the hard part: getting the vaccine to the public. Making that task even more difficult is the need not only for robust and timely supply but also for transportation and cold storage capability. B.C. businesses have a role to play in this effort.
THE VACCINE COLD CHAIN OPPORTUNITY
Vaccines are fragile biological concoctions, so they need transport and storage at specific temperatures to remain effective. Most vaccines must be stored at a few degrees above 0 C. Two leading COVID-19 candidates from Moderna and Pfizer require temperatures as low as –20 C and –70 C, respectively.
The unprecedented scale of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, combined with the rigorous storage needs of vaccines generally and the top COVID-19 candidates specifically, isn’t just a looming challenge. For organizations with a cold storage and transportation infrastructure, this global crisis presents an exceptional altruistic and commercial opportunity.
Although much of the vaccine “cold chain” is specialized, requiring expertise in storage and transport, one key link could see demand for other service providers once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved. A 2015 World Health Organization report describes the distribution process, shown here.
In developed and densely populated areas, current infrastructure will probably expand as vaccine distributors invest in their supply chains. That leaves distribution and warehousing in regional hubs—which dispense vaccines to smaller population centres and remote areas—as the vulnerable links.
Because distribution throughout rural regions takes longer, those facilities can expect to see relatively long-term storage of vaccines. But regional hubs can’t count on investment from existing industry players, which will focus on the early stages of the chain to deliver massive quantities of vaccines to large population centres as quickly as possible. If you’re a local business with cold storage capability, there’s an opening to join the distribution push by boosting capacity.
HOW WALSH KING CAN HELP
For our clients with transportation and cold storage capacity in locations such as the B.C. Interior, we see an opportunity to address business challenges and to offer valuable assistance to people in this province and elsewhere. We’d be pleased to discuss how business owners can contribute to the global effort against COVID-19 by leveraging their unique capabilities.
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