According to the World Health Organization and Gavi, two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses are targeted for distribution by the end of 2021.
The World Trade Organization emphasizes that successful immunization programmes needed to rein in the pandemic are built on functional, end-to-end supply chain and logistics systems.
A non-exhaustive seven-step overview of the vaccine development and delivery process visualizes the supply chain, and identifies intersections with governments’ trade policies and WTO rules.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has published an information note that outlines how COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, produced, and deployed around the world. The note describes the vaccine value chain, and identifies intersections with governments’ trade policies and WTO rules.
The note titled, ‘Developing and Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines Around the World,’ highlights national and global targets that have been set as part of an ambitious COVID-19 response and vaccination plan. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses are targeted for distribution by the end of 2021. An August 2020 survey by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) estimates that there is capacity to produce up to 4 billion doses this year. However, the note flags that vaccine shortages occur regularly, and that 69 countries reported vaccine “stockouts” (shortages lasting at least one month in duration) for yellow fever, measles, and polio in 2018.
Successful immunization programmes needed to rein in the pandemic are “built on functional, end-to-end supply chain and logistics systems,” the note emphasizes. The WTO provides a visual, non-exhaustive seven-step overview of the vaccine development and delivery process. The infographic, aimed at policymakers to ensure that government efforts on COVID-19 result in prompt vaccine distribution, underscores that quality assurance is a continuous effort, and is necessary across all seven steps, which span:
- Vaccine development;
- Domestic approval (manufacture);
- Vaccine manufacture;
- Domestic approval (importer);
- International distribution;
- Border clearance; and
- Domestic distribution and surveillance.
Identifying the role trade policy can play in ensuring the rapid roll-out of vaccines against COVID-19, the information note expands on the checklist with additional issues and questions for consideration as part of each step. On the first (vaccine development), the note flags the need for policies that promote effective, timely cross-border exchange of scientific information, data, and physical samples, as well as the need for domestic laws to facilitate international research and development collaboration.
On a vaccine’s physical international distribution and border clearance (steps 5 and 6), the note asks policymakers to consider what measures their governments can take to support airlines’ expanded cargo capacity, ensure that export restrictions do not hinder access to raw materials and components, and that COVID-19-related goods are prioritized for clearance, with simplified or expedited arrival procedures. Likewise, the note asks readers to consider what measures border agencies can take to ensure cold chain integrity as several vaccines need to be kept in sub-freezing temperatures in order to remain viable and effective.
For each step, the note provides links to supplemental WTO resources and additional literature. [Publication: Developing and Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines Around the World] [WTO News Release]