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While the world is holding its breath awaiting the release of the first COVID-19 vaccine, DKSH is already looking at how we can ensure that a vaccine can reach people in all corners of Asia. As one of Asia’s biggest vaccine distributors, it’s our mission to help Asian patients.
Here are some of the unique challenges and opportunities in getting this vaccine to patients throughout Asia:
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine product needs storage at -70 degrees Celsius while most traditional vaccines are stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius. A temperature this low requires special freezer units and puts a strain on the cold chain capabilities of most transporters or distributors. The capability of handling vaccines at these temperatures, as well as the capacity are key factors when selecting a distributor.
With storage requirements at -70 degrees Celsius, ensuring an intact cold chain – meaning keeping the vaccine at its required temperature to ensure it keeps its efficacy – will prove to be a daunting challenge in some Asian markets, where intense heat is often compounded by poor infrastructure. Stringent controls and impeccable cold chain management are a key requirement to ensure the products reach the patients intact.
While in the US and Europe, access to patients is rather straightforward and distribution through a hospital or “point of care” works well, this is not always the case in Asia. Many patients are in rural areas with poor infrastructure that are hard to reach; 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 to get to villages in remote areas, will become a requirement.
Increasing access to healthcare by reaching the unserved population in Asia is one of our missions at DKSH. With investments into deepfreeze storage capacity and one of the best cold chains in Asia, DKSH is well equipped and has the capability and capacity to manage the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to markets across Asia.