Air Date

November 17, 2021

Featured Guests

Dr. Julie Gerberding
Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President, Merck & Co., Inc.

Wes Wheeler
President, UPS Healthcare

Jeremy Konyndyk
Executive Director of the USAID COVID-19 Task Force


Raghu Kulkarni
VP of Data Science, Discover Financial Services


Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus still remains a threat to public health and economies all over the world.

As we continue our recovery throughout the pandemic, there is a collective effort to increase vaccination rates globally. Here’s how healthcare professionals and global partners, both public and private, are working together to scale these efforts.

The U.S. Is the 'Arsenal of Vaccines' for Global Distribution

As work to get the COVID-19 vaccine to countries around the world, it’s important to recognize the importance of the U.S. in the global recovery.

“The President has laid out a really ambitious vision for vaccinating the world,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, executive director of USAID’s COVID-19 Task Force. “He has talked about the U.S. being the arsenal of vaccines for the global vaccination effort, and that’s what we are delivering on now.”

He added that the Biden Administration has committed to providing at least 1.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally — more than we will consume domestically.

“So we're stepping up in an enormous way, and we're doing that with the partnership and the involvement of a lot of different organizations,” Konyndyk continued. “At ground level, we're working with private sector partners to help deliver those vaccines to promote vaccine uptake and confidence.”

Private-Public Partnerships Are Helping Increase Vaccine Uptake and Confidence

Without private-public partnerships, it is nearly impossible to scale vaccination on a global level.

“I think partnership is the theme word of this entire pandemic,” added Dr. Julie Gerberding, chief patient officer and EVP at Merck. “For any of the important countermeasures that have come forward, it has really taken the entire ecosystem of partnerships.”

Some of these partnerships include academia, small biotech companies, government funding, government research, and more.

“I think it would be impossible to imagine that we would have the supply of vaccines that we have today if it really weren't for the larger pharmaceutical companies, who not only have the know-how and the experience but have the scale,” Dr. Gerberding said.

Suppliers Are Preparing for Rapid Vaccine Development and Distribution

With the COVID-19 vaccine development process taking off, it’s important for suppliers to prepare so they can keep up with quick distribution.

“We're already seeing a major pivot to this sort of light-speed approach to getting vaccines and specialty biologics approved by the authorities, FDA, and others,” said Wes Wheeler, president of UPS Healthcare. “I think we have to prepare ourselves for more of this rapid development. They're finding ways to really get through the development cycle much faster. Instead of years, it’s taking months.”

He added that, as a supplier, UPS Healthcare has to make sure they have their co-chain facilities set up and proper air routes identified so they can provide quick responses — not only to a pandemic but also to the explosion of biologics, cancer treatments, and vaccines being developed with the new mRNA technology.

“So that's the one thing we're preparing for now, looking at the major air routes, including air routes from Asia, India, [and] South Korea, to make sure we can get these materials to the countries that need them quickly,” Wheeler said.