Managing Two-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Rollouts with Limited Supply: Operations Strategies for Distributing Time-Sensitive Resources

Production and Operations Management, Forthcoming

43 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021 Last revised: 9 May 2022

See all articles by Ho-Yin Mak

Ho-Yin Mak

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Tinglong Dai

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Christopher S. Tang

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Decisions, Operations, and Technology Management (DOTM) Area

Date Written: March 31, 2022

Abstract

Distributing scarce resources such as COVID-19 vaccines is often a highly time-sensitive and mission-critical operation. Our research was prompted by a significant obstacle that the U.S. and other nations encountered during the early months of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign: most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses given three or four weeks apart. Given the severely limited supply and mounting pressure on many countries to reduce hospitalizations and mortality, how to effectively roll out two-dose vaccines was a critical policy decision. In this paper, we first model and analyze inventory dynamics of the rollout process under three rollout strategies: (1) holding back second doses, (2) releasing second doses, and (3) stretching the lead time between doses. Then we develop an SEIR model that incorporates COVID-19 asymptomatic and symptomatic infections to evaluate these strategies in terms of infections, hospitalizations, and mortality.

Among our findings, we show releasing second doses reduces infections but creates uneven vaccination patterns. In addition, to ensure second doses are given on time without holding back inventory, strictly less than half of the supply can be allocated to first-dose appointments. Stretching the between-dose lead time flattens the infection curve and reduces both hospitalizations and mortality compared with the strategy of releasing second doses. We also consider an alternative single-dose vaccine with lower efficacy and show the vaccine can be more effective than its two-dose counterparts in reducing infections and mortality. We conduct extensive sensitivity analyses related to age composition, risk-based prioritization, supply disruptions, and disease transmissibility. Our paper provides important implications for policymakers to develop effective vaccine rollout strategies in developed and developing countries alike. More broadly, our paper sheds light on how to develop effective operations strategies for distributing time-sensitive resources in times of crisis.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine rollout, vaccine inventory, public health operations, SEIR model

JEL Classification: I11, L23, L65, M11

Suggested Citation

Mak, Ho-Yin and Dai, Tinglong and Tang, Christopher S., Managing Two-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Rollouts with Limited Supply: Operations Strategies for Distributing Time-Sensitive Resources (March 31, 2022). Production and Operations Management, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3790836 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3790836

Ho-Yin Mak (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Tinglong Dai

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

HOME PAGE: http://carey.jhu.edu/faculty/faculty-directory/tinglong-dai-phd

Christopher S. Tang

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Decisions, Operations, and Technology Management (DOTM) Area ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/x980.xml

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