As the first COVID-19 vaccines began their rollout, news reports tracing their distribution chain – from raw material suppliers, through the production site to local hospitals, nursing homes, and inoculation centers – brought some of the complexity involved in moving a high-value product from its origin to end users, into sharp focus. A complicated process which most consumers never even think about was showcased in a memorable way, making clear how essential each link in the chain could be to a successful outcome.
Of course, public interest in a vaccine which could help mitigate a global pandemic was particularly keen, so the media attention to each step along the way was understandable. But what was left unsaid is that essentially every product – particularly perishable ones – has its own chain of suppliers and distributors for whom packaging, timing, and storage conditions are also critical. While they differ in their details, the concept of multiple links involved in bringing products to consumers is common to just about everything people buy.