Stavridis: More than One Company Needs to Distribute Vaccine

The U.S. government must provide a contract for more than one company to distribute the coronavirus vaccine if it wants to successfully immunize the population, former NATO commander James Stavridis wrote in an op-ed for Fortune magazine.

“A key tenet in the military’s operational planning for any contingency is to never allow for a single point of failure,” Stavridis wrote. “Our military regularly scrutinizes each part of an operation to ensure every contingency has been considered and no resources are left on the sideline. The scale and importance of a COVID-19 vaccination program demands the U.S. government focus on resilience.”

He noted that is why the current system of U.S. private medical distribution network consists primarily of three large distributors, and “has built-in redundancy in case any of the companies experiences delays in their distribution.”

The same idea needs to apply to distributing the vaccine, Stavridis wrote, because “putting all of our eggs in a single basket exposes our vaccination process to the potential for what we in the military call a single point of failure risk.”

He also noted that while pharmaceutical companies have announced that their vaccines are showing to be more than 90% effective, “there is less clarity around the national vaccination effort. The parameters around who will receive the vaccine, when, and how are still murky. The sooner the process is made more transparent, the more trust and confidence the public will feel.”

Stavridis suggested the government use the military for the task of checking how multiple distributors could effectively deliver vaccines, as it is already conducting exercises in the event there are distribution failures. He expressed full confidence “that with the Defense Department supporting the development, production, and distribution of COVID vaccines, America can carry out an effective vaccination program.”

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