Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Nearly half of supply chain leaders are experiencing drug shortages and disruptions due to pandemic and AI challenge aims to restart economies after lockdowns

As the monumental task of distributing a Covid-19 vaccine looms, find out how supply chain leaders are working to prepare for transportation and shipment around the world

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As Pfizer and BioNTech announced news of a possible Covid-19 vaccine on November 8, in haste, pharma leaders are rallying to ensure supply chains will be able to support distribution. However, concerns from 500+ supply chain professionals reveals concerns about a lack of resilience as many prepare for third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Read on to find out how the pharma industry are preparing for the future.

Pharma leaders fear extreme vulnerability in end-to-end supply chain as pandemic continues, according to global survey

According to a benchmarking survey by TraceLink, 532 global supply chain leaders from various leading pharma companies, wholesale distributors, hospitals and pharmacies have indicated the supply chain has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Survey results reveal the supply chain has had significant challenges with drug shortages, limited access to critical medicines, increased production costs and heightened concerns around drug counterfeiting, diversion and theft.  

The survey results detailed that drug shortages were the top challenge supply chain leaders faced, with 46 per cent of respondents experiencing drug shortage during the pandemic due to stockpiling medications, transportation delays and increased costs. Poor visibility and a lack of agility were also suggested as key inhibitors of modern supply chain resilience with 65 per cent of respondents lacking the tools to accurately plan for future supply and demand.

The results of the survey have been included in a white paper in collaboration with the International Data Corporation (IDC) highlighting the systematic issues in the resilience of the pharma supply chain as the industry braces for a third wave of the pandemic and prepares for safe, worldwide distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, testing and treatments.

Simon Ellis, program vice-president, supply chain strategies at IDC, said: “When both demand and supply are erratic, supply chain agility becomes a critical capability to meet patient needs. Agility requires much tighter and more transparent holistic relationships with suppliers and levels of collaboration that have not been consistently achieved in the pharmaceutical industry, largely because of the constraints in sharing accurate data.”

Shabbir Dahod, president and CEO of TraceLink, said: “The past eight months have stretched healthcare supply chains to the limit, demonstrating that today’s siloed approach to managing disruptions simply will not work.

“Traditional information-sharing and business processes need to be broken down in order to improve agility, provide actionable visibility and increase end-to-end supply chain resilience. Next generation technologies like digital network platforms and supply chain work-management software applications that are designed to work across multiple enterprises can improve supply chain performance and ensure the timely delivery of medicines to patients all over the world.”

AI Covid-19 response challenge launched to restart economies and safely reopen societies

XPRIZE, a non-profit organization, and Cognizant, a digital operations company, have partnered to launch the Pandemic Response Challenge, a US$500,000 four-month competition aiming to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to minimize coronavirus infection cases while reducing the economic cost of lockdowns.

The competing teams will use Cognizant’s AI technology and data compiled by the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker to build their data-driven AI models, which aims to predict the level of local Covid-19 transmission rates and mitigation measures.

The results from the AI competition will be used to equip policymakers, health officials, and business leaders with the insights and guidance necessary to implement public safety measures that maximize their ability to keep local economies open while minimizing potential virus breakouts.

Amir Banifatemi, chief innovation and growth officer at XPRIZE, said: “This challenge will inspire some of the world’s brightest innovators to address the immediate threats to our economies and our livelihoods. With vaccines on the horizon, these predictive and prescriptive models for opening society will continue to be valuable for the foreseeable future.”

Brian Humphries, CEO of Cognizant, remarked: “The road forward on reopening global economies will be paved by collaboration. We are pleased to partner with XPRIZE in drawing together a global, cross-disciplined ecosystem of innovators to put their AI expertise to work in helping us emerge from this pandemic.”

Explore how pharma companies and industry leaders can reset for growth in the lab beyond coronavirus in Pharma IQ’s fourth annual edition of Smart Lab Digital. Save your early bird seat now.

For more on the digital progress of the pharma industry, find out how Dotmatics and BioBright are delivering strategies in data integrity and data security to enhance the digitization of life sciences. Download a copy of the report here.