Securing Trust in the Global COVID-19 Supply Chain

Never has a secure and efficient global healthcare supply chain been more important than it is now.

As governments and businesses around the world face one of the most significant challenges in history – an unprecedented rapid mass development, distribution, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines – a new report issued by Deloitte points to universal adoption of global standards across the healthcare supply chain worldwide to enable fast, efficient, and safe distribution.

GS1 standards provide a global system of traceability built around globally identified products. This enables the ability to identify, capture and share the information needed about vaccines, medicine and medical devices for vaccine administration throughout the healthcare supply chain, accurately and efficiently.

The Deloitte study calls vaccine identification information (such as product identifier, lot number, and expiration date) “essential for healthcare providers to administer vaccines with confidence,” noting that, “the WHO recommends that all vaccines be identified with this data in a standardized barcode.”

Read the Deloitte study: Securing Trust in the Global COVID-19 Supply Chain

Full Report
Executive Summary

GS1 Healthcare Executive Dialogue brought together leaders who discussed key challenges, opportunities and early learnings presented by the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

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The Global Supply Chain

GS1 standards make it possible to identify, capture and share information automatically and accurately about vaccines, PPE, medicine and medical devices relevant for vaccine administration and COVID-19 treatment moving through the healthcare supply chain.


Important stakeholders in the vaccine supply chain include pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, airlines, logistic providers and healthcare providers, including administration locations like long-term care facilities.

What's Different in the Vaccine Supply Chain?


The vaccine supply chain is often shorter, manufacturers deliver directly to administration locations.
There are requirements for ultra-cold storage. Therefore, some vaccines might only be able to be administered at specific locations.
Vaccine administration locations are not only the ‘typical’ healthcare providers but could also be long-term care facilities or vaccination centres.
Temporary exemption of regulatory requirements for identification and labelling of vaccines.


Benefits of GS1 Standards

For Vaccine Identification

For Vaccine Identification: Verification of the right vaccine at the right time for the right recipient. Access to reliable vaccine product and administration information. Ability to track vaccines, of adverse events following immunization and help enable vaccine recalls. Accurate documentation of vaccine information in patient records and vaccine passports.

For Vaccine Traceability

For Vaccine Traceability: Tracking (inventory) and tracing of the individual vaccine improves visibility and immunisation coverage. Access to reliable vaccine product and administration information, improving safety and care outcomes. Reliable electronic record keeping (digital health) enables automatic verification of the right vaccines for the right recipient. Brand and counterfeit protection preventing falsified vaccines entering the supply chain.

For Combatting Counterfeit COVID-19 Related Products

For Combatting Counterfeit COVID-19 Related Products: Global standards help to prevent substandard and falsified products entering our supply chains and markets, putting patients and caregivers at risk. The COVID-19 pandemic exponentially increased demand for personal protection and hygiene products which resulted in many counterfeit items such as surgical masks and 'coronavirus medicine' surging onto the market. Products can be falsified, deliberately mislabeled, contain wrong amounts of active ingredients or contain dangerous substances like mercury, arsenic, cement or rat poison. Products may also have been stolen, stored in the wrong conditions or expired, meaning they could be ineffective or contaminated.

Key Supply Chain Stakeholders

Regulators publish rules and regulations to ensure the virus remains under control. Now vaccines are available, they must enable a safe and efficient supply chain.
Public health authorities are responsible for putting the vaccine policy of the country in place.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers package the vaccines and distribute them to airports or distribution locations.
Temperature-controlled planes and trucks distribute the (sometimes ultra-cold) vaccines to the healthcare providers.
Providers like hospitals or long-term care facilities will receive vaccines first for elderly, care givers and high-risk population.
Slowly, more and more people around the globe receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Often at special administration locations.

Value for Government Regulators and Public Health Authorities

Value for Government Regulators and Public Health Authorities: Existing traceability systems built on global standards can be leveraged for traceability of vaccines, vice-versa if a traceability system is established for COVID-19 vaccines. Automated and reliable capturing of immunisation data in the national registry, also enabling interoperability across systems. Visibility through implementation of traceability, also for PPE, syringes, disinfectants, and other products. Reliable data for analysis, planning, recalls, insight into immunisation coverage and pharmacovigilance. Traceability enables a safe and efficient global supply chain preventing falsified products being distributed. Use of global standards creates trust across the healthcare environment.

Value for Healthcare Providers

Value for Healthcare Providers: Traceability supports the prevention of falsified products entering the healthcare environment, building trust and recipient satisfaction. It also enables quick and effective recalls. Supports full visibility in the healthcare supply chain, ensuring the right products are available when and where they're needed. Access to reliable vaccine product and administration information, improving safety and care outcomes. Reliable and updated electronic record keeping enables automatic verification of the right vaccine, enables digital health and registration.

Value for Manufacturers

Value for Manufacturers: Full supply chain traceability enabled. Tracking (inventory) and tracing of the individual vaccine improves visibility to accurately plan production and distribution. Data can be compiled quicker. Fewer transcription errors on the backend. Less time spent verifying and validating data. Brand and counterfeit protection preventing falsified vaccines entering the supply chain. A safe and efficient supply chain with the help of standards build trust in the manufacturer and its vaccine.

Value for Logistics Providers

Value for Logistics Providers: Access to reliable information about vaccine requirements for (ultra) cold chain distribution. Helps prevent falsified products entering the supply chain during distribution processes. Helps prevent falsified products entering the supply chain during distribution processes. Enables collaboration with customers for forward planning and more effective distribution.

Value for the Vaccine Recipient

Value for the Vaccine Recipient: The vaccine recipient can trust that the vaccine, administration processes and other needed products are safe. Accurate registration of the exact vaccine administered in a vaccine passport or eHealth solution. Verification of the right vaccine at the right time for the right recipient when multiple doses are needed. Patient contact protocols can be targeted to specific groups of patients in line with privacy regulations.

GS1 Enables Healthcare's Digital Thread

GS1 identification keys enable vaccine and PPE traceability from supplier to recipient.

GS1 Identification keys enable vaccine and PPE traceability across the healthcare supply chain by helping enable Healthcare's digital thread, mapping the product journey right from supplier to recipients meandering through various supply chain stakeholders and by using various GS1 standards.