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ASCM Insights

Making Strides in the Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine


For months now, medical experts have stressed that an effective vaccine is imperative to stopping the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed an astounding 500,000 people and infected 10 million. A vaccine is step one; step two is achieving herd immunity, which involves at least 80% of people receiving that vaccine. “When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection … to those who are not immune,” explain epidemiology professors Gypsyamber D’Souza and David Dowdy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

To develop a COVID-19 vaccine, there must be extraordinary levels of cooperation between the public and private sectors — including governments, academic institutions, industry and philanthropic organizations. Furthermore, significant manufacturing capacity is critical, as well as the ability to navigate supply chain hurdles, such as distribution system and cold chain challenges. And all of that doesn’t even begin to address projected barriers related to cost.

However, according to Reuters, we do seem to be making progress: “Vaccine alliance finds manufacturing capacity for 4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines” details how the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) is backing nine potential vaccines and has identified manufacturers with the capacity to produce 4 billion doses per year from 8-to-10 regional distribution sites.

CEPI is supported by 14 governments, Britain’s Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thus far, the organization has deployed $829 million in search of a COVID-19 vaccine, with the hope that at least some will be successful.

Supply chains give the edge

ASCM is uniquely positioned to add value to this important effort — and one way we’re doing that is by working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to address COVID-19 response efforts in developing nations in Africa. Thus far, we have

  • identified high-risk COVID-19 supply chain segments, including those delivering home health to the general population and critical care for health workers and people with severe diagnoses
  • leveraged ASCM’s new Global Health Supply Chain Maturity Model to assist response teams with quickly identifying supply risks
  • facilitated collaborative workshops with donor teams and local implementation partners to conduct risk-mitigation activities.

In addition, the ASCM Foundation is currently supporting ministries of health in efforts to develop tracking tools and a demand plan for COVID-19 laboratory testing kits and related commodities, including sample collection kits, sample transport media and personal protective equipment. Plus, the data we have already collected on COVID-19 caseloads will enable the ministries of health to forecast the commodities required for performing hundreds of thousands of tests in the coming months.

I invite you to learn more about these initiatives and how ASCM and the ASCM Foundation continue to make an impact every day. More importantly, you and your organization can play a critical role in helping us harness the power of supply chains to create a better world.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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