Managing Two-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Rollouts with Limited Supply

35 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021 Last revised: 10 Mar 2021

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: February 22, 2021

Abstract

We consider the problem of rolling out an approved COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., the one developed by Pfizer) that requires two doses to be spaced apart by a fixed time interval. Facing severely limited supply and mounting pressure to rapidly achieve herd immunity through vaccination, the U.K. and U.S. governments, along with the E.U., face the decision of whether to reserve stocks for the required second doses for returning recipients. We model the vaccine rollout process and complement it with an SIR (susceptible-infected-recovered) model that captures the disease transmission process. For a two-dose vaccine, we model the inventory dynamics under three stocking policies: (1) holding back second doses, (2) releasing second doses, and (3) stretching the lead time between doses. Counterintuitively, we show that even if one intends to release all second doses, only less than half of the available doses can be allocated to first-dose appointments in order to avoid delays in administering the required second doses for returning recipients, no matter how quickly supply grows over time. We show analytically that under a (weakly) increasing vaccine production rate, releasing second doses reduces the number of infections but creates uneven vaccination patterns. Contrary to popular belief that releasing the required second doses will reduce infections significantly, our numerical results reveal the reduction in infections is quite modest. Compared with the policy of releasing second doses, stretching the between-dose lead time flattens the infection curve but leads to a higher total case count. Finally, we consider an alternative single-dose vaccine with a lower overall efficacy (e.g., the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and show it can be more effective than its two-dose counterparts in slowing down infections and ending the pandemic. As more than one hundred countries have yet to start their vaccination efforts as of February 2021, our research has important policy implications for various national and local governments to develop their vaccine rollout strategies especially when their supply of vaccine will be likely to be limited initially.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine rollout, vaccine inventory, health policy, SIR 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 (February 22, 2021). 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/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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