Malaysia's Cold Chain Industry Guide


The Raise of Cold Chain Challenges in Pharmaceutical Industry

Cold Chain Industry Overview March 7, 2022


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The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the modern global supply and demand chain. Traditionally, supply chain resilience has been focused on protecting primarily against single-point failures–for example, delivering goods from a start to endpoint while maintaining it at its quality.

COVID-19 has had a truly global impact, with many supply chains facing multiple challenges. It is difficult, if not impossible, for businesses to maintain efficient supply chains while having redundancy across all of their operations.

Back in 2020, the pharmaceutical and cold chain industries were pushed to innovate during vaccine development, such as creating temperature-controlled packages to meet the needs of new deep-frozen vaccine storage as well as increased demand for existing products. The industry stepped up to the plate, working in unprecedented ways to make 2021 a better year.


Problems Faced

The first obstacle faced is creating the product. To be fully effective, all vaccines that have been approved for use, as well as the majority of those in development, require multiple doses. Others require extremely cold supply chains. These product design considerations have had far-reaching consequences as health agencies and governments figure out the best way to distribute, administer, and schedule follow-up doses. 

In Malaysia alone, the number of vaccines administered in February 2021 was a mere figure of 25.3 thousand and eventually grew to 31.8 million doses of vaccines administered in August 2021, just 5 months later. 

Other initial uncertainties included the number of doses per vial, viable transport modes, and cold-chain requirements, in addition to shipments and air freight to deliver vaccines from one country to another. These may appear to be obvious points, but they highlight the unprecedented nature of distribution on a truly global scale.


Moving Forward

While the vaccine will allow many economies to eventually recover from lockdowns and a dramatic drop in Malaysian economic activity, the big picture is likely to remain uncertain for some time

Because infrastructure exists to easily transport and store these vaccines around the world, the Malaysian market will likely favour vaccines that require refrigerated temperatures of 2-8°C. Furthermore, refrigerated temperatures eliminate concerns about dry ice shortages and how it reduces the amount of available cargo space on aircraft.

This preference for refrigerated vaccines could encourage pharmaceutical companies with deep-frozen vaccines to investigate and determine how to maintain the efficacy of the vaccine at a normal refrigerated temperature using cold chain management to efficiently manage this.