A reliability engineer takes a hard look at Operation Warp Speed’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution

With the December rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, the world is turning a corner with this pandemic.  For the last year, thousands of scientists and medical professionals have worked tirelessly to both improve treatment of COVID-19 patients as well as create a safe and effective vaccine.  In parallel, General Perna has led Operation Warp Speed, a multi-disciplinary team of government and public entities focused on designing a supply chain that would  perform the operations of storage, transport, and handling of these vaccines to ensure that the rollout is successful.

As a reliability engineer who is interested in various failure mechanisms, it was intriguing to learn the various facets of this operation and the critical points within the process that may result in loss of vaccine efficacy.  By understanding what can go wrong, it’s easier to determine what problems to anticipate and how to plan for them. Reliability engineers often use Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) to determine key failure mechanisms, quantify their contributions to the overall failure frequency, and help prioritize the systems or sub-systems to focus on in order to minimize the potential of failure.

This white paper provides a simple model that explains this complex logistical issue to demonstrate the strength of reliability analysis to solve problems that are as complex and multi-faceted as the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process.

A reliability engineer takes a hard look at Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Murtaza Gandhi, Principal Process Safety Engineer
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