Zumba is taking the world by storm
Over the past couple of months, Healthcare Global has been profiling a number of exercise techniques that have been infiltrating gyms across the globe. Bikram yoga, tabata workouts, and anti-gravity yoga are rapidly increasing in popularity, but as the ‘new kids on the block’ so to speak, it remains to be seen if they are here to stay.
Zumba®, on the other hand, is almost definitely here for the long haul. A fitness programme that is inspired by Latin dance, it was formed by pure chance in the mid-1990s, by Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez. After forgetting the tapes to accompany an aerobics class he was due to teach, Perez improvised with salsa and merengue music he had with him instead, and the rest, they say, is history.
Although Perez found success with Zumba®in his native Columbia, it was not until the early 2000s that exercise really started to catch on. Perez introduced his new style of energising dance-fitness to Miami, America, and after meeting two fellow Columbians; Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, the company Zumba Fitness was formed.
It started off with a range of Zumba®DVDs, and then came an infomercial which introduced the concept of Zumba®and the ‘Zumba Fitness-Party’ to the public on a wider scale. It was from here that the interest in Zumba quickly escalated, and soon the public was craving exercise classes that were taught by specially trained Zumba instructors.
Both the classes and instructors proved to be the key to the fitness programme’s success. By 2005 the Zumba®Academy had been formed and was dedicated to training instructors and licensing classes. Zumbawear™ was next on the agenda for global domination; consisting of clothing, accessories and Zumba®music CDs.
But undoubtedly the turning point came in 2008, with the release of the Zumba Fitness’ Total Body Transformation System DVD series. It quickly became one of the world’s best-selling at-home fitness DVDs ever.
While Zumba Fitness was being propelled to the dizzying height of fitness-world domination, another revolutionary exercise technique was taking hold too, in the form of games consoles. It started off with the Nintendo Wii Fit in late 2007/early 2008, and was followed in November 2010 by Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. Suddenly, games consoles were being used all over the world as a fitness tool, and users were no longer slumped in chairs in a darkened room, they were getting up, getting more active and exercising for hours on end.
So naturally the next step for Zumba Fitness was to release a computer game. Enter Zumba®Fitness for the Wii, Kinect and Sony PS3, which hit the shelves in 2010. Since then, and in a period of less than two years, more than six million copies of Zumba®Fitness have been sold. Majesco Entertainment published the game, which was followed by Zumba®Fitness 2 for the Wii, and more recently, Zumba®Fitness Rush for Xbox Kinect.
Commenting on the launch of the latest game earlier this year in February, Jesse Sutton the CEO of Majesco, said: “With more than six million Zumba®Fitness games sold, we've tapped into a fan base that is excited about an exhilarating dance-fitness experience that yields real fitness results. This game delivers more content than any Zumba®Fitness game to date...and we're proud to share this experience with fans and help players everywhere reach their personal fitness goals.”
Although Zumba®has gripped the world and it has a following of literally millions of enthusiasts, Zumba Fitness is not resting on its laurels and it is determined to continue to grow in popularity. “At Zumba Fitness LLC, our vision is to fill the world's empty rooms with Zumba®classes,” the company states. “Working hand-in-hand with our most dedicated Zumba instructors, together, our goal is to spread the philosophy of health and happiness and of loving everything you do, especially your workout.”
In total there are eight different types of Zumba®classes, helping to maximise its appeal to the masses. ‘Zumba®Fitness’ is probably the most common and is based on the original Zumba Fitness-Party model.
Meanwhile there is ‘Zumba Gold®’, which is adapted to suit the older generations, and ‘Zumbatomic®’, which is designed specifically for children aged four to 12. There is also ‘Zumba®Toning’, which incorporates the use of Toning sticks to define the arms, legs and stomach, and ‘Zumba®Gold-Toning’, which again, is matched to the fitness needs of the baby boomers.
‘Aqua Zumba®’ is, as it sounds, a Zumba®workout in water, while ‘Zumba®in the Circuit’ is a 30 minute, high intensity combination of Zumba and circuit training. Finally, ‘Zumba Sentao™’ is a chair-based Zumba workout which focuses on strengthening and balancing your core.
Fads in the diet and fitness world often come and go, and what is popular becomes history tomorrow. But there is something about Zumba®that is different. It has evolved into the world’s largest and most successful dance-fitness programme ever. Across the world there are 12 million people taking part in Zumba, whether it is through their games console, at their local gym, or by following the steps on their at-home fitness DVD. And with Zumba®classes taking place in more than 110,000 in over 125 countries, Zumba isn’t going anywhere fast.
A Zumba Fitness-Concert at the 2011 Annual Zumba Instructor Convention
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined.
Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.
Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short.
Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification.
The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.
It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.
It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.
For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.
The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.
Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.
Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.
Disconnected information systems
While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration.
A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.
By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.
Political influence and social equality
As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.
In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.
However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.
Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution.
The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.