2020 has been a year like no other. As the Covid-19 pandemic has brought monumental damage, destruction, and pain, there does seem to be hope on the horizon as humanity is beginning the monumental task of worldwide vaccine distribution. This coincides with the holiday shopping season. A holiday season with small businesses on the brink and online sales increasing by about 34 percent. Not since the second world war has strong supply chains and the value of logistics been at the forefront of the world stage.
United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) says it has the capacity to handle both the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and the holiday shopping surge following investments in automation, tracking technology and dry-ice production. UPS is the primary end-to-end distributor for Pfizer Inc.’s (Pfizer) vaccine, as well as for kits to prepare the shots and dry ice shipments to keep the inoculations at the necessary extremely cold temperatures. The vaccine and kits will have tracking devices that allow shipments to always be monitored.
FedEx Corp (FedEx)., also pledged to make vaccine distribution a priority over other shipments. They are using tracking devices and providing dry ice to make sure the vaccines reach their destination and are ready to be administered.
As vaccine rollout distribution begins in Britain with US rollout imminent. The first 800,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Britain were transported from a manufacturing plant in Belgium to government warehouses in Britain, and then to hospitals.
The unparalleled jump in online orders during Covid-19 has already put an immense strain on shipping carriers. Although retailers have reported Black Friday/Cyber Monday level order volume in the second and third quarters, they are still bracing for an even bigger surge. The overall number of holiday packages that will be sent out globally will exceed the shipping capacity for traditional carriers by 5 percent. Potentially jeopardizing promised delivery windows and possibly delaying up to 700 million orders worldwide, especially considering carriers are (rightly) prioritizing vaccine distribution. In fact, UPS had to limit the packages it took from some large retailers immediately after Cyber Monday because volume exceeded pre-arranged delivery agreements. However, with the surge eased UPS was able to get the network back on track quickly with a high on time delivery percentage.
Shamefully, despite the clear essential nature of supply chains, logistics, and trucking, there are those who believe that package deliveries should be taxed at an even higher rate than they currently are.