A green cover


Vaccine haifu no logistics to market design (Market Design and the logistics of vaccine distribution)


NODA Shunya


71 pages, A5 format




March, 2023



Published by

The Mitsubishi Economic Research Institute

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Vaccine haifu no logistics to market design

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I am a specialist in market design, a discipline that aims to scientifically design optimal institutions, at our university's graduate school of economics. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, I have been involved in improving Japan's COVID-19 vaccine distribution from a market design perspective as part of a joint team of the University of Tokyo Market Design Center (UTMD) and UTokyo Economic Consulting Inc. (UTEcon). Some of the content I examined was directly fed back to the local governments, some became the foundation of ongoing academic papers, and some were published as policy proposals. This book organizes these contents, providing an overview of everything after overcoming the chaotic vaccination start period and settling various matters.
While the development of vaccines itself and the design of the vaccination program's infrastructure are medical tasks, market design knowledge studied in the fields of economics, operations research, and computer science is useful in formulating logistics to decide optimally who gets which vaccine and when and where, given the characteristics of the vaccine and the policy objective.
Japan has achieved remarkable results in formulating vaccine distribution logistics, ultimately achieving one of the highest vaccination speeds and rates among developed countries. However, some troubles also occurred during the distribution process. The most famous of these was the rush occurring shortly after the start accepting reservations. Such rush places an extra load on servers, requires citizens to waste effort to secure a reservation, and force local governments to deal with extra workload on top of already busy due to COVID-19 itself and vaccine distribution operations. Such a situation can be avoided by properly designing the reservation system. In this book, using theoretical models, I explain pros and cons of a first-come-first-served reservation system that has been commonly used during the pandemic but causes a rush of reservations. Then, I introduce an invitation-based reservation system that can retain almost all the pros of the first-come-first-served system while overcoming almost all the cons.
The distribution of vaccines in the COVID-19 crisis had a very short preparation period due to the surprisingly fast development of the vaccine. I feel that all the stakeholders I have interacted with have done their best in the limited time, and this book is by no means intended to criticize them. However, if we can use the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis to pursue efficient distribution of goods during disasters, we can prepare for the next pandemic and create a resilient society. I would be happy if this book could contribute even a little to that.

(Written by NODA Shunya, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Economics / 2023)

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