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RIT supply chain expert looks at vaccine distribution challenges

Dec 3, 2020

Credit rit.edu

The millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines that will be distributed over the next several months is a massive undertaking.

But one local supply chain expert sounds optimistic about the plans to roll out the vaccine.

Steven Carnovale, assistant professor of supply chain management at the RIT Saunders College of Business, said the pandemic has presented challenges, mainly on areas like warehouse capacity and transportation due to the huge increase in online shopping.

“Because people have been shifting consumption behaviors to online or otherwise, that has forced retailers to jam up their warehouses and have been relying on transportation more so than ever before,” Carnovale said.

But even with those challenges, Carnovale is hopeful the process for shipping the vaccines, some of which need very specialized handling because of the low temperatures they need be kept at, can be done in a relatively efficient manner.

"I think there is going to be a learning curve," he said. "I think it’s probably going to be a little bumpy in the beginning, but I also think the way in which the vaccine is being rolled out, in terms of both the quantity and the groups to whom it’s being sent. I think that will also kind of hedge against system-wide disruptions."

The RIT professor does have confidence in the ability of the nation to set up systems needed to distribute the vaccines.

“I’m comforted by the fact that we’ve got some of the best logistics networks and minds out there designing and planning and coordinating all of these distributions," Carnovale said.