Successful mass vaccination programmes are public health achievements of the contemporary world. While pharmaceutical companies are actively developing new vaccines, and demonstrating results of effectiveness and safety profiles, concerns on COVID-19 vaccine management are under-reported. We aimed to synthesise the evidence for efficient cold chain management of COVID vaccines.
The scoping review’s conduct and reporting were based on the PRISMA–ScR 2018 checklist. We searched from April 2020 to January 2022 for publications in PubMed (LitCovid), Scopus and ScienceDirect. All review stages were pilot-tested to calibrate 2 reviewers. Articles on cold chain logistics and management were included, while publications solely describing COVID vaccines, their development and clinical aspects of the vaccine, were excluded. To capture relevant data, charting was conducted by one reviewer and verified by another. Results were analysed thematically and summarised descriptively in a table and in-text.
Results and discussion
We assessed 6984 potentially relevant citations. We included 14 publications originating from USA (n = 6), India (n = 2), Finland, Spain, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Switzerland and Ethiopia. They were reported as reviews (4), policy or guidance documents (3), experimental studies (2), case reports (2), expert commentary (1), phenomenological study (1), and decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory trial (1). The findings were presented in three themes: (i) regulatory requirements for cold-chain logistics, (ii) packaging and storage, and (iii) transportation and distribution. A conceptual framework emerged linking regulatory requirements, optimal logistics operation and formulation stability as the key to efficient cold chain management. Recommendations were made for improving formulation stability, end-product storage conditions, and incorporating monitoring technologies.
COVID-19 vaccines require special end-to-end supply cold chain requirements, from manufacture, and transportation to warehouses and healthcare facilities. To sustain production, minimise wastage, and for vaccines to reach target populations, an efficient and resilient vaccine supply chain which is assisted by temperature monitoring technologies is imperative.