China has seen a nationwide logistics rehearsal to prepare for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mass use, as some leading vaccine producers have been conducting large-scale transport drills across the country since Friday.
Sinopharm Holdings, affiliated to Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm Group), has started a large-scaled maneuver to test its capacity and capability in all links of the vaccine mass distribution system covering receiving orders, system scheduling, transporting to warehouse, sorting out batches, and landing to local CDC or vaccination sites. Sinopharm Holdings will be mainly in charge of the nationwide distribution of two inactivated vaccines produced by its parent firm Sinopharm Group.
Gu Yimin, General Manager of Logistics of Sinopharm Holdings, told the Global Times on Tuesday that they have adopted the highly digitalized cold-chain vaccine distribution platform that enables tracking the quality status of the vaccine, critical steps in the trip, temperature control and route in transit.
Gu suggested that the share of vaccine distribution in each region is manly determined by proportion of local population.
Analysts said logistic practice should be strengthened in areas with sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks such as Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, areas that will possibly be the first to receive the vaccine.
“The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is highly demanding. The exercise aims to ensure safe and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines through a strong distribution network and highly integrated and coordinating system,” Gu told the Global Times.
The company is equipped with hundreds of refrigerated trucks, and all cold storage warehouses and refrigerated vehicles will be given priority for the national distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they are approved for market, said Gu.
The whole-process monitoring data of each refrigerated truck can also be timely tracked through the specially designed digital platform, Gu said. The platform can intelligently design the cold-chain packaging scheme in advance according to the weather conditions of origin and destination, distance and other factors. Hundreds of cold-chain warehouses worldwide for vaccine have been registered on the platform.
When time permits, land transportation is preferred in vaccine logistics as its temperature changes can be well monitored in real time, Gu noted. He suggested that there have been multiple plans to cope with emergency cases such as equipment or transit malfunctions or abnormal temperatures.
In the actual distribution, the professionals will scan the electronic drug regulatory code for each vaccine in and out of storage to ensure the quality and safety of the vaccine during the circulation process.
China's logistics have been able to serve the vaccine distribution to county-level medical institutions, Gu noted, saying the company is preparing corresponding schemes and resources to guarantee the vaccine distribution in remote areas with limited supplies of cold-chain equipment.