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Ensuring reliable and efficient access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Asia Listen with ReadSpeaker

Ensuring reliable and efficient access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Asia

The discussions around the COVID-19 vaccine have been intense and we have heard a lot about the many variations of vaccines, the start of inoculations in some markets, the unbelievable storage conditions required and the challenges these can bring.

However, these conversations are always mainly around the US, Europe and the northern hemisphere but rarely about Asia. At the recent Makers and Movers Cold chain 2021 virtual summit that focused on global access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as the keynote speaker, I had the privilege to share my views and DKSH’s contribution on this theme.

As governments across Asia rush to get the vaccines, the next step will be to ensure that they have the resources and manpower to deliver them to the people. The substantial volume of doses required, ranging from millions to billions, means that each market must carefully determine the resources they will need for the effective storage, distribution, logistical considerations and handling of these vaccines.

Once vaccines are available, governments will need to map out their distribution plans including to rural, villages and urban areas. Advocacy and communications on allocation criteria and benefits must play an important part in the delivery process to mitigate the effects of misinformation and mistrust around vaccines. Here are three challenging areas that need to be overcome to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Asia. 

The COVID-19 vaccines will require cold temperatures for storage to keep them stable and viable. The antigen, the component that provides the immunization, degrades quickly if not kept at a specific temperature.


A cold chain system in healthcare necessitates seamless end-to-end solutions that anticipate and moderate unique risks and challenges. These include ensuring uniformity of quality control, monitoring and a fleet of vehicles that bring the vaccine from the regional warehouse to the provincial or local distribution centers.


The end-to-end temperature control and other storage and handling factors could be a hurdle for low-income markets that do not have the required infrastructure to store and distribute to their population.

While most freight forwarders can deliver the vaccines to the airport warehouses or ports, they are not able to reach the point of care in the hospital, clinic or vaccination center.


Many patients are in rural areas with poor infrastructure that are hard to reach and this is where a key complexity of vaccine distribution lies. The ability to deliver the vaccines in a safe yet pragmatic manner, for example, on the back of a motorbike equipped with a specific top-box to get to villages in remote areas, will become a requirement. 

With millions of people to be inoculated, governments will need to manage the vaccination drive. Patients need to be told they are eligible for their vaccination and when and where they can get the shot. They need to be informed of which vaccine they will get and be able to communicate with their healthcare provider to ask questions and address any doubts.


A vaccination drive of the scale we have in front of us requires thorough systems and processes to be in place. Data needs to be stored and managed and it must of course all be automated and simple to manage.

Increasing access to healthcare by reaching the unserved population in Asia is key to achieving reliable and efficient access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Asia. Reach out to us on how we can help your business deliver high-quality medicine, vaccines, medical devices or diagnostics reagents to patients across Asia.

About the author

Bijay Singh

Bijay Singh is DKSH’s Head Business Unit Healthcare. Bijay has lived and worked in four continents and amassed over 15 years of work experience in the healthcare field across Asia. Read more about DKSH’s healthcare services.