The Supply Chain Matters blog provides an added update to our COVID-19 Industry Supply Chain Disruption News Capsule published on Monday.

Equity markets were somewhat rattled this week with news concerning the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine availability for this year. For readers of this blog, such news would likely be not at all surprising.

Yesterday, Pfizer indicated to news outlets that the scale-up of the raw material supply chain took longer than expected, and the effort was also delayed by needs to provide vaccines for the ongoing clinical trials. The maker did not clarify to news outlets which specific raw material issues were encountered.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

The news was especially disappointing in the U.S. as record numbers of daily COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations consuming national news and with health officials warning of more dire numbers.

The vaccine maker clarified that it initially indicated in November that it would only ship half of the vaccine doses it originally planned for 2020. Readers might recall that in early November, news channels were saturated with the reports of the outcomes of the U.S. Presidential election as well as accelerating virus outbreaks.

The Wall Street Journal, citing a person directly involved in the development of the Pfizer vaccine, indicated in its published report yesterday that some early production batches of raw material failed to meet standards, but after the situation was resolved, production teams ran out of time to meet the 2020 total predicted shipments. Thus, the original goal for having availability of 100 million doses in-place by the end of this year had to be reduced to 50 million doses.

The WSJ report indicated that in a typical vaccine development and distribution program, pharmaceutical companies typically wait until after governmental regulatory approval before securing needed raw material and initiating volume production. The urgency of this health crisis instead required parallel efforts.

Pfizer has reiterated that modifications to two global production lines are now complete and distribution of 1.3 billion doses of its vaccine during the year 2021 remain as planned.

Moderna, whose vaccine is expected to gain emergency approval this month, reiterated this week that the biotech provider would have between 100 to 125 million of doses globally available in the first quarter of 2021.


Added Supply Chain Matters Perspectives

As Supply Chain Matters indicated in our blog commentary: Demand and Supply Network Challenges Like No Other- COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, there are monumental business process, production and global logistical challenges that will be associated with the distribution of a very sought-after vaccine. With so many processes and activities happening in parallel the need for coordination and synchronization is critical. There is a further need for overcoming any end-to-end supply chain blind spots, along with insuring the security of the entire supply chain.

This week’s news development will likely not be the only time that equity markets freak out on news related to vaccine supply chain glitches.

Rest assured, industry supply chain teams and their supporting logistics services providers will be very keen to these possibilities throughout the coming months. Supply chain technology providers are also keen to these extraordinary needs and we will likely see demonstrations as to how technology will assist in these overall needs.


Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2020, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.