It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a logistical nightmare for companies across the globe. All sectors of commerce have been hit with delays in shipping and sourcing, as well as labor shortages.
These interruptions have been especially challenging for the healthcare and clinical trials industry due to our reliance on critical study supplies and the need for many laboratory samples to be shipped at a controlled and consistent temperature level.
Before the pandemic, many may not have realized how dependent the movement of specimens and supplies were on commercial carriers.
When COVID-19 hit, there was an extraordinary increase in shipment volumes across the postal and package industries caused by people switching to online shopping. Shipping companies and couriers of all sizes across the globe struggled with the consolidation of commercial flight schedules during the pandemic and to maintain the appropriate flight patterns in order to ensure the stability of different sample types – otherwise, specimens would be at risk of spoilage. Many couriers saw a 3-4x volume increase prior to the same 4-month period of time the year before. To put that into perspective, it was like dealing with a Christmas-time package surge every single day.
A number of shipping companies and courier services enacted programs at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to intervene and retrieve a shipment if it was running late at one of their hubs. Temporary programs like these enabled couriers to replenish the dry ice in bio specimen packages to prevent any spoilage.
"The pandemic has forced the healthcare sector to be much more flexible and adaptable. Clinical trial research companies and central research organizations have had to find ways to complete studies faster than they ever have before, especially with the urgent need for vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19. Ultimately, this has challenged the way that we think about patient recruitment, clinical continuity, and logistics on a global scale." – Brian Wright, President of ACM Global Laboratories
At ACM Global Laboratories, we have a team in place dedicated to overseeing all logistical aspects of specimen delivery. This team has put a host of measures into place over the last year to quickly and efficiently mitigate logistical delays.
As part of this ongoing effort, ACM’s logistics and project management teams have worked in concert with clients and sites, going above and beyond to provide training, documentation and more to sites directly. One such measure is to train our client sites on how to properly pack shipments – especially shipments requiring dry ice. They also continuously monitor and track shipments on a daily basis, including all late shipments. Any shipment issues are immediately mitigated by working with the shipping service provider.
Package volumes are continuing to stay high even as the pandemic begins to wind down. This is because the behavior of everyday consumers has changed to preferring on-line shopping over in-person shopping. While we expect this to remain the “new normal,” many shipping providers are working hard to expand warehouse capabilities and labor power, and are prioritizing healthcare shipments.
As we head into a post-pandemic world, it is going to take time for all aspects of the industry to adjust to the new logistical normal. That’s why we at ACM are so dedicated to maintaining rigorous oversight of all clinical trial specimen shipments and to communicate efficiently with clients on any and all logistical delays.
To learn more about our central lab services for clinical trials, click here.