Explore the extraordinary journey of the COVID-19 vaccines through the global supply chain as they travel from the lab to “the jab.” This is the intriguing backstory of the race against time to create, manufacture and distribute vaccines, and the lessons it taught us—if we heed them—on how to cope with future global disruptions. This three-part limited series explores how governments and corporations were driven to take risks and make difficult choices on the flow of goods—in this case, life-saving ones— as they battled an unprecedented global public health emergency. This is a look at the calculated risks taken in real time that had opposing ripple effects on rich and poor countries, as national agendas collided with global commerce in the frantic rush to save lives. Alongside insights from leading scholars and experts, we’ll hear never before told stories from those on the frontlines: the head of the key Pfizer production facility, the person in charge of vaccine logistics at UPS, the Supply Chain lead on the White House Covid Taskforce, and others. How It Got Here: The Jab is hosted by Ken Stern and brought to you by The Deming Center at Columbia Business School in collaboration with the Supply Chain Innovation Network, and is sponsored by EY.
Part 1: Place Your Bets
In March of 2020, as COVID-19 was spreading across American shores, the wheels were already being set in motion to manufacture and eventually distribute vaccines. In Washington, Rear Admiral John Polowcyzk, then lead of the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force for HHS and FEMA, was grappling with a near empty national stockpile, while laying the groundwork for a vaccine rollout. Simultaneously, in Kalamazoo, Chaz Calitri, Vice President of Operations at Pfizer, was being tasked with developing a process to manufacture millions of doses of a vaccine that didn’t yet exist and was far from guaranteed to win FDA approval. Hear their stories along with insights from some of the world’s leading supply chain experts on the race to the jab and its implications for those nations who got access to life-saving technology, and those who still have not. With Columbia Business School professors Awi Federgruen and Medini Singh, and Prashant Yadav, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Part 2: The Race Against Time
As COVID-19 rampaged through the world during the Spring of 2020, a team at Pfizer in Kalamazoo was working 24/7 to scale up production of a vaccine candidate that they weren’t even sure would be approved. Developing a manufacturing process, procuring materials, and getting the vaccines through the cold chain at the scale needed to inoculate the world was a dizzying endeavor. Follow along as Chaz Calitri, Vice President of Operations at Pfizer, and Wes Wheeler, President of UPS Healthcare tell us how they pulled it off. With insight on why success was far from guaranteed from Gad Allon, an expert in scaling operations at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Glenn Steinberg, Global Supply Chain and Operations Lead at EY, and Professor Medini Singh from Columbia Business School.
Part 3: The Last Mile
It’s not the vaccine that saves lives; it’s the vaccination. This is the story of the last mile: getting life-saving doses into people’s arms under the strain of unprecedented demand. Hear from Donna Drummond, Chief Expense Officer at Northwell Health where the first Pfizer vaccine in the US was administered, along with Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia who has been a leading voice in global public health for decades. Our series ends with a deep dive into how the pandemic has transformed global supply chains and what it means for the future in a world where disruption is likely to be the norm. Join Rear Admiral (RET) John Polowczyk, Columbia Business School professors Medini Singh and Awi Federgruen, and Prashant Yadav of the Center for Global Development as they discuss the lessons learned, if, indeed, we will heed them.
Fascinating. The miracle of the Vaccine and the way it came into all of our arms.
All the health and emotional benefits are due to the underpinnings of government and industry along with a can do attitude. Well done. A big thank you is in order.