Global Vaccinations and the Supply Chain

Apr 29, 2021Imports and Exports, Industry News, International Logistics, Supply Chain Management

As the world collectively creeps towards a “return to normal” that relies in a major way on global vaccination efforts, it’s become increasingly obvious that a more widespread reopening hinges greatly on some serious supply hurdles. Let’s take a look at some of the major factors affecting our progress on a global scale.

Varying Vaccination Rates

There is a pervasive misunderstanding that once the United States achieves reasonable vaccination rates, the world will “go back to normal.” What a lot of people, both in and out of the logistics industry, are failing to take into account is just how interconnected our world truly is.

Although vaccine rollouts are in full swing in many countries, there are still just as many others that are lagging behind in vaccination rates. Because the supply chain spans the globe, the industry will never truly return to normal until we achieve a global vaccination rate that’s sufficient enough to prevent more outbreaks. Until this happens, even if one country manages to vaccinate its entire eligible population, it will be quite a while until the world and supply chain industry can return to how it was functioning before the outbreaks began.

Supply Chain Bottlenecks

Even with recent safety concerns cropping up around the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, the issue that continues to reign is whether or not the European Union can work with drug manufacturers who are producing in the UK and the EU to ensure the supplies for which they contracted are delivered. At this point, the constraint on supply weighs heavier in this final mile than the inability to get people vaccinated. At this crucial tipping point in recovery, it is integral for global industry and government entities to work together to help resolve freight bottlenecks, production, and supply issues.

Although the US and UK are ahead in vaccination rates compared to the EU thus far, any restriction on exports would likely impact the US vaccine supply as well. This is a result of global production sites existing for different vaccine manufacturers, but there are also raw materials, precursor chemicals, and supporting packaging supplies, like vials, caps, and lids that need to move freely to pack and ship the vaccines. As indicated by recent developments, any kind of action by Europe to restrict this in the interest of keeping supply at home will have rippling implications globally.

Travel Restrictions

Another delay in supply chain recovery hinges on the inability of people to travel, especially US buyers or sellers, technical or engineering staff, and others essential to on-site management of production. Europe is also working hard to contain the variants which are already circulating (such as in the UK, Brazil, South African) while trying to keep community spread and transmission down to prevent further local strains in their own countries.

Ongoing Efforts

TOC Logistics International, Inc., as well as our agents and haulers throughout the world, understand these challenges well. We, as an industry, have already gone through one rise and fall of production suspensions, border closures, and restrictions. It is also worth taking into consideration the COVID protocols already in place on factory docks for pickups and deliveries that are actively helping to curb the spread.

We at TOC continue to do everything in our power to provide service in the face of port congestion, limited airfreight options constrained by lack of regularly scheduled passenger flights, and local and national public health measures. All necessary measures have, admittedly, had a massive initial impact on the supply chain but were essential to help control the spread of the virus. This is especially true in countries that saw proportionally huge death tolls in the early months of the pandemic.

Hopefully, with sufficient support, collaboration, and resolution of supply bottleneck and production issues, we will likely begin to see an influx of vaccine doses produced and made available globally as we approach the third quarter of this year.

With all this in mind, we continue to stay abreast of these ever-evolving times. Reach out to your TOC representative today to learn how they can help advise on the many factors at play that may be affecting your freight. As always, you can count on us to be on your side.


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