Covid and the supply chain: What is the latest?
The US is in the lead, with around 175 million doses being administered. At this rate, it is estimated to take another three months to cover 75 per cent of the population.
After a break in the vaccination drive in the US over the Easter weekend and end of Passover, the pace has picked up again, with another 3.4 million doses reported on Thursday, bringing the seven-day average to 3.04 million, almost at the record level before the holiday drop off.
According to , the stockpile of AstraZeneca vaccines in America has now risen to more than 20 million doses. AstraZeneca has yet to request Food and Drug Administration authorization for the two-dose vaccine, and the company faces safety questions and scrutiny from US regulators who have already rebuked it for missteps during clinical trials and partial data releases.
The latest row with AstraZeneca and the EU continues. Dozens of EU nations suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccines after claims that it could be linked in a handful of cases to blood clot issues, the Netherlands this week issuing a new ban. AstraZeneca, the EU regulator and the UK disputed these claims, but now the UK has said under 30’s are going to be offered an alternative vaccine.
AstraZeneca announced last month that it might only be able to produce half of the supply it was contracted to deliver across the European bloc, and the backlash from the EU has been significant. The EU also threatened this week to block exports to the UK due to the nation’s successful vaccine drive.
Japan has the UK as the main export destination, getting 17.7 million shots produced in the EU, versus 13.3 million for Britain’s shipment. European governments have been under pressure to curb exports as their rollout lags behind vaccination rates in the US and the UK However, out of the 534 export requests submitted by drugmakers so far, only one has been refused, and two are pending, according to the dated April 8.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the country is trying to boost its capacity to make vaccines, as new coronavirus cases have surged to a record in the world’s second-most populous nation. Currently, India’s virus epicentre only has worth of stock left. Modi is reported to have had a meeting with chief ministers to discuss ways to stop the rapid rise of infections in the South Asian nation.
Nations across the world have poured billions into developing new vaccines, testing them on volunteers, scaling up the manufacturing and then bringing them to the market in record time. Although the rollout is going well, there are still countries with little access and low supply, meaning the world is still a long way off being completely vaccinated.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.