The global rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has not only taxed the pharmaceutical supply chain but placed it under a magnifying glass, generating concerns about supply chains of non-COVID-related pharmaceutical products. To gain data-driven insights around these questions, FreightWaves’ Zach Strickland interviewed Christopher Engel, the commercial supply chain service director for World Courier, an AmerisourceBergen company.
“The global rollout of the vaccine is estimated to generate about 60,000 tons of airfreight and that’s basically enough to fill 11,200 Boeing 777 airplanes,” said Engel. “On the face of it, this seems like a massive number. However, it isn’t a huge concern, especially when we put this number in context of total airfreight volumes. It only represents about 0.3% of all airfreight in the year 2019. It is a substantial undertaking, but even given the 2020’s airfreight volumes, it’s one that we still have capacity for as an industry.”
As a result of COVID-19’s scrutinizing effect on pharma supply chains, the flaws and disruptions are more visible. Engel talks about globalization’s consolidating effect on the drug market, leading to an overreliance on a few countries — mainly India and China — for the sourcing of pharmaceutical ingredients.
“We will surely see more local manufacturing in the future due to reshoring activities and those activities can already be observed in Europe, where governments are starting to give incentives for local manufacturing as a countermeasure to the overreliance on certain countries,” said Engel. “Future pharma supply chains shouldn’t only focus on efficiency and driving down costs, but actually supply chains should be built on patient-centricity.”