Economy & Politics

InterviewVaccine logistics: “Germany is very well prepared”

Developing a vaccine is one thing, but now it also has to be distributedimago images / Laci Perenyi

Professor Klumpp, 55 million people in Germany are to be vaccinated. So around 110 million doses of vaccine have to be produced, filled, cooled, transported back and forth and then distributed in the vaccination stations. A monstrous logistics task. Is that feasible?

Prof. Dr. Matthias Klumpp, Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, Health Care Logistics (Photo: Fraunhofer IML)

MATTHIAS KLUMPP: 110 million cans are a challenge – but not an overly large task. For comparison: the logistics department transports 20 million “salami” frozen pizzas to the supermarkets every year, all flavors combined around 200 million frozen pizzas per year. Over a period of nine months, with 100 vaccination centers and distribution via the general practitioners, the 110 million vaccine doses mean around 10,000 to 20,000 vaccine doses per day for a vaccination center. This fits in two to four normal transport boxes, which is why storage in hydro freezers will probably be concentrated in a few locations, for example per federal state (15 to 20 locations) and then transported daily to the vaccination centers and doctor’s practices.

How many companies are involved, who coordinates it?

A large number of actors are involved in the entire vaccination logistics process, from the Paul Ehrlich Institute as the approval body to around 100 regional vaccination centers as well as local medical practices and transport service providers. The health ministries at federal and state level play a central role in planning and commissioning; they have ordered vaccine doses in advance. In logistics, it is customary to organize it by the shipper, which will play a role especially for international transport. This means that manufacturers such as Biontech will commission logistics service providers such as DHL, UPS or Transoflex. For Germany, this will be done under the direction of the health ministries in consultation with local health authorities and vaccination centers. We rightly expect a very plural and decentralized solution here too. The 15 pharmaceutical wholesalers in Germany will also support the later decentralized storage and dispatch for vaccinations in the general practitioners’ practices. They have sophisticated logistics, for example, right into every pharmacy.

Vaccine distribution: no bottlenecks

Are there enough transport capacities in Germany?

I don’t see any problem at all, around 10 to 15 trucks will probably leave the production facilities every day, as at Biontech, in order to carry out the Germany-wide replenishment – a lot that will hardly be noticed on the road.

Where are the most likely bottlenecks? The 16 federal states are now all vying for ampoules and syringes – doesn’t that seem to be coordinated?

No bottlenecks are expected for Germany, the quantities in question also for aids such as syringes etc. appear large as annual quantities, but are comparatively low when broken down into daily requirements. In Germany alone, the two leading manufacturers BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) and B.Braun produce ten million syringes per day, so around 500,000 more are not a problem for the corona vaccinations – especially since there is currently a production overhang, as overall fewer doctor visits and treatments take place in lockdown.

How well is Germany prepared? Where is it still a problem?

The preparation in Germany can be rated as very good, the decentralized organization of vaccination centers is making good progress. We are currently seeing two “decision points”: First, the transition to further decentralized vaccination options in general practitioners’ practices. We should implement this as early as possible in order to also strengthen the willingness to vaccinate, which is probably lower in centralized vaccination centers. Second, the use of independent and digitally possible options to arrange vaccination appointments, such as via an app (or the Corona app); This can also increase the willingness to vaccinate and help to provide logistics with important planning data digitally at an early stage. If these two points are well designed in the coming week, no bottlenecks are to be expected.

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