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UPS delivers more than a billion vaccines worldwide

In this article:
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Kate Gutmann, EVP and Chief Sales and Solutions Officer of UPS Global Healthcare, talks about the innovations and effort needed to deliver vaccinations, some with temperature-control requirements, worldwide.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Welcome back. UPS just hit a fresh milestone on vaccine deliveries handing over a total of more than 1 billion COVID-19 shots. We have with us now, Kate Gutmann, UPS Global Health Care Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Solutions Officer. And Yahoo Finance's Health Reporter Anjalee Khemlani is back with us now as well.

Kate, thank you so much for being here. It's been a year since vaccine shipments began in late 2020. As you look back on this past year, what did it take to get to this milestone? And what are the key priorities as you look ahead?

KATE GUTMANN: Well, thank you and good afternoon. Boy, when I look back at the last year before the billion doses a lot of investment, a lot of build out precision, and strength of our heroes at the front line during the pandemic getting this done and delivering at a 99.9% on time performance. So that's probably the thing that most stands out to me.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Kate, Anjalee, here. Looking at it from all the stuff that you've had to do whether it's innovative storage and shipment practices, tracking really point-by-point across the travel destination of these vaccines, as well as the in-kind transportation that you've done I just want to know, looking at it from that perspective and moving forward how much more do you think it's going to take of really that kind of donation and time and effort on UPS part to get more vaccines globally?

KATE GUTMANN: Well, I think to start with the investment build out of capabilities, you know, these vaccines often require temperature-controlled environments and at ultra-cold levels. And so we built out storage facilities and freezer farms to support that distribution. Technology just wraps each package so that we can deliver that 99.9%.

And to answer your question, throughout the world the billion vaccines actually, if you look at the breakdown about a third of it in the US, a third in Europe, and a third in the rest of World. So there is an equitable distribution of the vaccines. But it's going to take a lot more.

UPS of course, with our foundation we're proud of the efforts. We've already invested 22 million or donated that. And then that has impacted over 34 million of vaccines specifically to those developing nations, but the alliances like COVAX and the others that are joining together, all companies both public and private sectors to really reach the developing countries so that everyone has an opportunity to get vaccinated and really protect against this virus. We're at the beginning I would say as a global entity.

JARED BLIKRE: And, Kate, just looking at the video here on our screens and also reading through some of your notes this is an incredibly complex logistical undertaking here. I knew it was going to be complex, but it's hard for us to wrap our heads around exactly what's going on here. And you mentioned a 99.9% on-time delivery stat.

We were talking in our morning meeting and we couldn't remember any high profile case of a vaccine shipment going missing or serious damage I'm just, how are you able to take these precautions? And do you have any kind of losses that you can share with us?

KATE GUTMANN: So we have no losses. And that comes from that infrastructure that we built out. The people at UPS just completely focused on prioritization of these vaccines. 99.9% is because of that technology, we can get within an arm's reach of any of these specific packages.

And then that is feeding up to a global control tower that actually runs 24/7 so that when we do see instances, maybe it's weather related or something else, we actually implement contingencies to ensure it doesn't impact us adversely. So, no losses. And again, just thrilled that the UPS frontline delivering they all know the importance of these packages. And so we're very honored to participate.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Kate, I think to, Jared's point it's a very complex system and one that is kind of underappreciated in a situation like this-- the barriers that you've had to go through, the hurdles of even coordinating with different countries with their different ministries, and how to get those doses in. What would you say remains one of the existing hurdles still to getting those doses in?

KATE GUTMANN: So I would just say that it's access. So throughout the world infrastructure by country, you know, some don't have the roads that are necessary to reach all of the people needing these vaccines. So we have actually delivered over 330,000 via drones in alliance with Zipline.

We've also partnered with various companies to do alternate delivery modes. It might be smaller aircraft going into remote cities. So we are at the beginning stages of covering the globe's population. And it does take an alliance, so not UPS alone of course. It takes COVAX and bringing everyone together, Gavi of course, and bringing the best of everyone's surplus or resources to be able to ensure equity is tied to these vaccines.

And we've seen that in the distribution of the billion. As I've mentioned, it's not just US, it is throughout the world. And it does take extra steps to coordinate with each country, and our public affairs group, our whole UPS team is involved in ensuring that happens.

- Kate, the USPS was out with a report yesterday saying it estimated nearly $2.3 billion pieces of mail will be processed and delivered this week. How does managing vaccine delivery work alongside the shipping rush that we've been seeing over the past several months and especially now into the holiday season? Does it strain shipping and logistics lines?

KATE GUTMANN: So it doesn't strain. But I will pause and say during peak season-- that's the last six months of the year-- we double our average daily volume. So that's quite significant.

But within that, we ensure that there is that high priority fast lane wrapped in that great technology, our UPS Premier Service for these vaccines but not just vaccines, also a broader array of sensitive and highly complex health care goods that our customers trust us with. So we have that passage. We have a global network that covers every mode of transportation. And again, supported by that technology we have that confidence and ability to deliver that 99.9%.

- All right. Kate Gutmann, is UPS Global Health Care Executive, Vice President and Chief Sales and Solutions Officer. And Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani is health reporter. Thank you both so much for your--