Vaccine Strategy II: We Aren’t Using the Right Experts

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We need to include logistics and business experts.   PDF Format Here.
This is a follow up to a January 4 post, Vaccine Strategies: Follow the Math on mathematics based business strategies that can inform the vaccination distribution.

We Aren’t Using the Right Experts
By Philip Siegel                January 10, 2021

The development of COVID vaccines has been an enormous achievement of our scientific establishment. The challenge before us now is to distribute the vaccine to our population as quickly and safely as possible. If you look at the makeup of the COVID-19 task forces of both the current administration and the new administration, they are all doctors and public health experts. No one—not one person on either team—is a distribution, logistics, customer service or information management expert—zero out of forty. And those are the areas of expertise we need right now to improve the vaccination process— to manage the customer experience, optimize distribution, minimize inventory wait times and spoilage, and implement the information technology we need to win the COVID-19 fight.

One of the mantras of this pandemic has been “listen to the experts”, follow the advice of the right person for the right job. To figure out how to get the vaccine into the arms of our citizens, we first had to invent it which the medical experts did with outstanding success. And now we must distribute it and keep track of it. Unfortunately, the medical experts have gotten off to a poor start and are not likely to improve because they are the wrong people for the job. Citizens who spend their days figuring out how to meet customer needs, ship goods, distribute perishable products, sell tickets, reserve restaurant tables, run models for restocking grocery store shelves, track packages, and expedite consumer deliveries are the experts we need now. The right strategy is well within the expertise of our logistics, information management and supply chain management experts and they would quickly improve this struggling process.

We would never ask a logistics expert like the legendary CEO of Fedex Frederick Smith or a successful technology industry CEO like Mark Benioff of how to develop an effective vaccine.  Why are we asking Anthony Fauci and other public health experts and doctors how to distribute it and keep track of it? We shouldn’t. Now is the time to ask Mr. Smith, Mr. Benioff and other experts in the logistics and data industries how to carry the water in this next phase of the fight.  The current challenges are problems solved every day by people from Pepsico, WalMart, Target, CocaCola, HomeDepot, Albertson’s, Southwest Airlines, Amazon, Microsoft, CostCo and many others of our iconic American companies.  These are experts that distribute products efficiently to us every day while overcoming operational challenges, meeting regulatory standards, tracking the product and delivery, minimizing spoilage and out-of-stock, and ensuring customer satisfaction.  The product—the vaccine—may be excellent but the customers (the American people) are not served well or satisfied right now and the process is a mess.

We should call on President-Elect Biden to immediately add two, three or more executives to his COVID-19 task force from the industries that represent the expertise we need now—the supply chain, logistics, data management and customer service industries to help end this pandemic more quickly.


Philip Siegel is a Managing Partner of Tritium Partners a private equity firm that invests in supply chain and data management companies. He is the founder of Newgistics, Inc. a supply chain company that was acquired by Pitney Bowes. He is also a Senior Advisor to the Covid-19 Global Response Centre at the Boston Consulting Group where he was previously a Partner and Managing Director.  Philip is also co-Founder and a board member at MathHappens Foundation.

Jan 20 Update: Amazon sent a letter to President Biden in his first hours of office Wednesday offering to assist the new administration with its coronavirus vaccine distribution.

Jan 21 Update:  Fed-Up Executives Plot a Faster Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout.  Momentum is building in the business community.

Jan 26 Update:  This story from Jan. 22nd was in People Magazine under “Food” but its pretty much going everywhere:
Chick-fil-A Manager Called in to a Save COVID Vaccine Drive-Thru Struggling with Long Wait Times  
“When you need help, call the pros,” Mount Pleasant mayor Will Haynie said Here’s the original tweet with video from the Mayor of Mt. Pleasant S.C.


2 Comments on “Vaccine Strategy II: We Aren’t Using the Right Experts”

  1. Pingback: Vaccine Strategies: Follow the Math - Math Happens

  2. Pingback: Vaccine Strategy III: The Parable of the Life Preserver Experiment - Math Happens

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