Literature Review - the vaccine supply chain
Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent and/or control the outbreak of infectious diseases. This medical intervention also brings about many logistical questions. In the past years, the Operations Research/Operations Management community has shown a growing interest in the logistical aspects of vaccination. However, publications on vaccine logistics often focus on one specific logistical aspect. A broader framework is needed so that open research questions can be identified more easily and contributions are not overlooked. In this literature review, we combine the priorities of the World Health Organization for creating a flexible and robust vaccine supply chain with an Operations Research/Operations Management supply chain perspective. We propose a classification for the literature on vaccine logistics to structure this relatively new field, and identify promising research directions. We classify the literature into the following four components: (1) product, (2) production, (3) allocation, and (4) distribution. Within the supply chain classification, we analyze the decision problems for existing outbreaks versus sudden outbreaks and developing countries versus developed countries. We identify unique characteristics of the vaccine supply chain: high uncertainty in both supply and demand; misalignment of objectives and decentralized decision making between supplier, public health organization and end customer; complex political decisions concerning allocation and the crucial importance of deciding and acting in time.