Access control a key concern for COVID vaccine logistics

The challenges facing the global logistics industry as they distribute vital COVID-19 vaccines around the world has thrust access control firmly into the public eye.

The challenges facing the global logistics industry as they distribute vital COVID-19 vaccines around the world has thrust access control firmly into the public eye.

Two of the three major vaccines – those produced by Moderna and Pfizer – are already being rolled out, but their susceptibility to warm temperatures means supply chains must be kept adequately cool.

For the Moderna vaccine, that means not allowing dosages to rise above -20 degrees celsius (roughly the temperature of a home freezer).

The Pfizer vaccine initially represented an even greater challenge as it must be stored below -70 degrees celsius – closer to temperature of an Antarctic winter.

But recent data submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration has since demonstrated the Pfizer vials can be stored “at conventional temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers for a period of up to two weeks”.

Even so, the strict storage requirements have already led to some spoilage of the already-scarce vaccines.

More than 100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were thrown out by a Melbourne aged care home after the temperature of the fridge they were stored in could not be confirmed.

Separately, in the US, a pharmacist was arrested on suspicions he deliberately left 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine (the equivalent of 570 doses) in an unrefrigerated room in an act of sabotage.

Complex problems require modern solutions

These instances have placed an emphasis on access control, which Cisco’s smart systems subsidiary Meraki noted is crucial for managing the vaccine roll-out.

“When it comes to storing the vaccine, being able to see how many times a freezer door was accessed is critical,” the company cautioned.

It comes at the tail-end of a year which saw demand wireless access systems increase anyway, with IFSEC Global reporting the pandemic “has only accelerated a trend [towards wireless access] that was taking place anyway”.

ASX-listed smart locker company TZ Limited (ASX: TZL) similarly saw demand for its solutions grow through the pandemic.

Although COVID-19 created some installation delays, TZ was still able to implement its SMArt Locker solution in several US-based universities, including Cedarville University in southwest Ohio, and Fairfield University in Connecticut.

These lockers helped reduce waiting times in campus post offices as students came to collect the 1200 parcels delivered to the school daily during the height of the pandemic.

Cedarville University director of retail services Tammy Slone said students were sometimes being forced to wait as much as 30 minutes

“When COVID hit, all of a sudden social distancing and the lines that are a part of the postal operation became a glaring problem,” she said.

TZ’s systems allowed the school to drastically reduce the number of mailboxes on campus while still reducing wait times and enabling students to collect packages out of hours.

“Students no longer have an assigned mailbox,” she said

“Their mail will be assigned to a box when it comes in, and once they pick it up, that box will be available for the next person. That’s how the school was able to go from 4,000 to 220 mailboxes.

The TZ lockers instead offer contactless access and enable more efficient use of floorspace.


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