Borrer Executive Search: How COVID-19 Vaccines Turned the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain into the Ultimate Gamble

As the world races to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest possible time to save lives, the supply chain of pharmaceutical companies has become a very hot geopolitical battle. This is surprising for many supply chain experts because they have known since the beginning of 2020 that the supply chain was going to be one of the biggest challenges in vaccination. They also realized that ensuring a functioning supply chain required a high level of guessing when, where and how much to invest – variables never before seen in supply chain management.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies have raced to develop, test, get approval of and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. Supply chain experts have also known since that time it would be a very bumpy road. Today, it is very difficult to evaluate if the whole effort has been a great success or a dismal failure; much depends on the definition of success or failure as well as expectations. Worse, the burning question “could we have saved more lives?” lies at the heart of the challenge.

The COVID-19 vaccine is a huge game changer and a brutal gambling exercise on the supply chain. The big questions last year for many companies involved in the manufacturing and delivery of the vaccine were how much capacity to build without exact figures to rely on, which vaccine would succeed (different vaccines need different manufacturing equipment), and how many doses would be needed

Challenges supply chain is facing:

  • Streamlining the decision-making process
  • Creating scalable chains
  • Not being afraid of the traditional ultimate supply chain mistake

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Professor Carlos Corden
Thought leadership category