Ensuring security of vaccine delivery

PETALING JAYA: As excitement grows over the expected maiden arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine tomorrow, security experts do not foresee any security issue arising from the delivery of the prized vaccine, especially for the first phase of the delivery.

However, anti-terrorist specialist and supply chain, transportation and facilities specialist Verghese Thirumala urged proper security measures to be put in place during the second phase of the delivery, when the vaccine is poised for wider distribution across the country.

This comes as police gave assurance that they will be providing adequate security during the transportation of the precious cargo.

While Verghese does not see any issues arising from the first phase of the government’s vaccination programme, he believes the second phase of the delivery to more places in the country will pose extra challenges.

“There will be more truck movements and more people involved, ” he said, adding that the vaccines would become attractive to criminals.

“This happens when you have products that are fast moving, easy to dispose of and have reasonable value, ” he said, adding that there were instances during the pandemic where essential items such as toilet paper, soap, hand sanitisers as well as nitrile gloves were stolen.

Verghese, who is also the managing director of an electronic security, Internet of Things and telemetry system company, expressed concern that Covid-19 vaccines might end up with the same fate.

To ensure the safety of the vaccines, he recommended that there be proper security measures starting from the main entrance of the distribution centre, including a proper trucking and visitor management system.

“Once the trucks leave the distribution centres for the hospitals or clinics, the trucks need to have GPS trackers. I believe most of them already do, but this is not good enough.

“A truck needs to have multiple GPS trackers, perhaps solar-powered ones so that if one goes off, there is still a back-up.

“If criminals want to derail the truck, they can use jammers to block the GPS, ” he said.

He added that the trucks carrying the vaccines must not stop at just any rest and service areas (R&Rs) as it would expose them to unnecessary risk. He suggested that they stop at designated R&Rs instead.

“The truck drivers too need to be vetted and have a clean record, ” he said, adding that the trucks must never run low on fuel.

Verghese noted that cameras should be placed on four sides of the truck which could be monitored from a command centre.

On Thursday, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani gave the assurance that the police would assist in the transportation, storage and distribution of the first batch of the vaccines to prevent hijacking, theft or sabotage at any point along the supply chain.

“I have instructed all state police chiefs to identify all storage and distribution centres nationwide and implement the necessary security measures, ” he said, adding that the police would provide escorts for the valuable cargo.

Security Industry Association of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Ramli Yusuff said he was confident that the police had security matters under control.

“I don’t think there is any danger. Malaysia is a very safe country, there is nothing to worry about.

“I believe the police will have their own SOP to safeguard the vaccines, ” he said.

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trucking , cargo hijacking , logistics , security


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