Computer model could take kinks out of vaccine supply chain

A study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Vaccine Modeling Initiative finds that computational models can help smoothly integrate new vaccines--like the rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate shots--into vaccine supply chains already in place in developing countries. Modeling identifies possible disruptions and bottlenecks in the process, allowing health organizations to prevent interruptions to the delivery of vaccines.

The WHO's Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) makes vaccines that can prevent rotavirus and pneumonia deaths available to all children around the world. But space for storage and transport of these vaccines is limited in developing nations, and vaccines will expire if not properly stored or delivered quickly enough to children in these areas.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say their computer model can avoid supply chain issues that result from introducing new vaccines, avoiding avoid last-minute temporary fixes that can lead to vaccine spoilage. "New vaccines may not fit smoothly into supply chains and therefore fail to reach their target populations easily," explained lead author aid the study's lead author Dr. Bruce Lee. "These problems may prevent other vaccines from reaching clinics as well. Manufacturers and policymakers should consider vaccine quantity and packaging before designing vaccines and introducing them in unfamiliar areas with limited resources."

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