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What we learnt about the distribution supply chain of the Covid-19 vaccine
The Covid-19 vaccination campaign to combat the pandemic is globally the main event, and urgent, large-scale distribution is an imperative in all parts of the world. As such, those responsible for its production and supply chain need to drive critical protocols and use their best capabilities and resources to achieve distribution. They need to provide an agile, yet resilient service focused on patient care.
Given the urgency with which they needed to start vaccinating, some pharma companies like Pfizer had to put together their production process in a different way than they had always done. Normally, in a vaccination campaign, pharmaceutical companies wait until the vaccine is approved and research is completed before purchasing raw materials, setting up production lines, and setting up the supply chain to ship the product to different locations.
In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer had to do everything at once, there was no time to wait for approval. The pharmaceutical companies in charge of producing the vaccines have promised a certain number of doses to different countries, but we often see that they do not reach the production target, and countries fall behind in vaccination campaigns. This is partly because raw material suppliers do not always deliver 100%, and so the production chain is delayed from the start. It is essential for these companies to have softwares and systems that allow them to diversify sources of raw material supply, in order to quickly reallocate flows if a supplier fails. There is a vulnerability when an operation depends on a few suppliers somewhere in the network for a crucial component or material. Moreover, given the pandemic context, if that supplier produces the item at a single plant or in a single country, the risks of disruption are even greater. Manufacturing capacity must be flexible, and it must be able to be reconfigured as needs evolve.
Some of the other major concerns of those leading vaccine supply chains relate to the need to maintain product stability and temperature, storage and transportation. Across all these concerns, agility is the answer, as it is the critical driver to make it work.
In addition, companies in charge of distribution will have to deal with large amounts of data, information and alerts, and will need to deploy processes and technology solutions that can balance agility with efficiency to ensure proper last-mile fulfillment. They will need to take into account the broad spectrum of new risks related to the distribution of this specific product, such as those related to logistics and transportation infrastructure, security, local regulatory and business management requirements, and even local weather and temperature forecasts.
For this reason, supply chains must be agile, but also resilient and robust. Even with the most advanced level of planning and forecasting, chains will need to streamline and secure operations throughout the entire vaccine cycle, responding to unforeseen events. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, chain leaders were already facing the challenge of planning operations in a holistic manner. The pandemic has only increased the amount of data generated in a dynamically changing environment. It has further increased the scale, scope and volatility of the information supply chain managers receive. Data, opinions and news about vaccination developments also seem to change on a daily basis. Now, it is even more necessary for supply chain leaders to have holistic and integrated visibility into the flow of data about their operation.
This requires an open approach to evaluate all requirements that may affect decision making. For this, platforms that use artificial intelligence, such as Omnix, are critical because they automate decisions by taking into account all conditions, requirements and changes that occur in real time. This is a task that cannot be done by hand by a person; systems with these characteristics are necessary. Other functions that artificial intelligence could bring to vaccine production lines include:
-Determine statewide/regional/local/located/located vaccine needs based on COVID spread and surges.
-Proactively manage point-of-use stockpiling and supplemental supplies (syringes, alcohol, vials)
-Oversee temperature controls and shelf life of vaccine
-Create, manage and track care plans for vaccination phases
-Dynamically manage the supply chain of drugs, hospital equipment and non-pharmacological materials based on the status of the vaccinationIn short, those responsible for these supply chains must develop a service that is agile, yet resilient, focused on patient care and able to act in the face of unforeseen events. Some of the questions these professionals must ask themselves are: Do we have a shared, unified view of our end-to-end vaccine supply chain? How should we connect and collaborate across our supply chain to ensure resilient and agile processes? How can we streamline and translate continuously updated vaccine demands and risks into action through existing logistics distribution and transportation practices? Software such as Omnix's, which orchestrates decisions in an automated way, giving visibility into all processes within an operation, may be the answer to issues of this type faced by the pharmaceutical industry.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a common notion for a variety of Machine Learning methods that make it possible for the computer to understand and perform operations using human (i.e. natural) language as it is spoken or written.
The most important use cases of Natural Language Processing are:
Sentiment analysis aims to determine the attitude or emotional reaction of a person with respect to some topic – e.g. positive or negative attitude, anger, sarcasm. It is broadly used in customer satisfaction studies (e.g. analyzing product reviews).