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

43 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021 Last revised: 30 Aug 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: August 28, 2021

Abstract

Distributing scarce resources such as COVID-19 vaccines is often a highly time-sensitive and mission-critical operation. On top of that, most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses to be administered three or four weeks apart. How to effectively roll out two-dose vaccines is a crucial policy decision given that many countries are struggling with limited supply and facing mounting pressure to slash hospitalizations and mortality and to rapidly achieve herd immunity through vaccination. 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 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 a 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. At a time when many countries, especially in the developing world, face stringent vaccine supply constraints, our research provides important implications for policymakers to develop effective vaccine rollout strategies. More broadly, our paper sheds light on how to develop effective operations strategies for distributing time-sensitive resources in times of crises.

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 (August 28, 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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