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Vaccine

A medic receives the Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine in Tver, Russia. Reuters

Countries like Russia, US and even UK are struggling to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine expeditiously, across their regions. This is sad. Now that the vaccine is available in many countries, we need to roll them out with lightning speed to save lives. The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines is the biggest launch, of any product globally. Governments should work closely with the private sector.

Consumer companies like Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi and Coke, understand distribution. Their products can reach any village or town in the world. They know logistics and distribution.  These companies know the geography of countries, road and street streets networks, logistics, better than some government agencies. They use Geographical Information Systems, to track every change in roads or shops even in remote villages. They can guide health workers and inoculators to clusters of villages and people.

Some of these companies also have robust cold chains reaching remote villages, worldwide. Their network of warehouses, cold storages, distributors, can be deployed to transport and store the vaccines.

These companies also have latest Distributor Management Systems. These are IT systems which link the company warehouses with thousands of their distributors. Any change in inventory, is monitored every minute. This helps to monitor stocks and replenish them immediately, through automatic reordering systems. So, if the vaccines are stored with the distributors of consumer product companies, their deployment and inventories can be monitored on a constant basis.

Every government should have a committee of experts to guide the distribution of vaccines across the country. At least two or three members of this expert Vaccine Distribution Committee should be CEOs or Distribution and Logistics Directors of multinationals like Pepsi, Unilever and Colgate. They will bring detailed and rigorous knowledge with them about distribution, logistics by town, district and village.

Rajendra Aneja
Mumbai, India

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