This Week in Logistics News (January 2 – 8)

Welcome back. I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday season and was able to get some much-needed rest. I know I certainly did. And luckily, unlike a large number of people out there, all of my Christmas packages arrived on time (although there were a few close calls). According to new data, while UPS, FedEx, USPS, and other carriers handled a record crush of holiday packages, some 2 million packages arrived late. According to ShipMatrix, the on-time delivery rate for UPS was 97.6 percent for packages scheduled for delivery between December 20 and 26, while FedEx came in at 96.5 percent and the Postal Service at 94.7 percent. All in all, I think this was actually better than a lot of people expected, given how quickly capacity sold out, and how much e-commerce volume was expected this holiday season. And as the saying goes, better late than never. And now on to this week’s logistics news:

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine began arriving at hospitals last month, which sent a surge of hope around the world. However, since that time, the supply of the vaccine has been short of what was initially expected, leaving hospitals scrambling to get their hands on more supply. The issue here is that the new vaccines need an absurd amount of labor and materials to be manufactured, especially considering that a vaccine has never been made at this speed or scale before. Much of what is needed to produce these vaccines are in short supply, and there are not any facilities in the world that have manufactured them at the required scale before. Pfizer and Moderna have been building out their supply networks to move from clinical stage production to large scale production. However, each step in the manufacturing process requires raw materials that, before COVID, were only produced in the amounts needed for clinical research.

Tesco and Boots are ready to help the UK government distribute the new COVID vaccine developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca. Unlike the recently approved vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at warmer temperatures. This means that it can be stored and transported in regular refrigeration trucks. Tesco has offered to use its country-wide distribution company Best Food Logistics to aid the roll out of the vaccine. Boots is preparing to open three COVID-19 vaccination sites in Halifax, Huddersfield, and Gloucester in conjunction with local GP-run clinical commissioning groups, with plans to open more in the coming weeks.

In the US, two regional grocery chains, H-E-B and Hy-Vee, have begun administering the Moderna COVID vaccine to health care personnel. H-E-B is using its partnership with the Texas and the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to provide frontline health care workers with COVID-19 vaccinations, administered by their pharmacy staff. The company has been allocated a very limited supply of vaccines by the state and is adhering to the phased approach of vaccinating health care workers and community health providers who are caring for symptomatic COVID patients. H-E-B has requested another vaccine allocation to keep up with demand. Hy-Vee is also administering the Moderna vaccine to frontline health care workers in Iowa and Minnesota. Hy-Vee announced that it plans to hire 1,000 pharmacy technicians across its market areas as it works to expand coronavirus testing and prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Amazon continues to grow its air fleet to move goods around the country. Earlier this week the company announced it is buying 11 used Boeing 767-300 jets from Delta and WestJet as prices have dropped. The move is not overly surprising given how much the pandemic has fueled not only e-commerce growth, but the expectation of faster shipping options. The four WestJet planes are being converted to cargo jets and will join the Amazon Air fleet this year, while the seven Delta…

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