This content is relevant for:Coronavirus / Medical Biotechnology / Pharmaceuticals
The first Covid-19 vaccines have been approved in a number of countries – with approval in Europe also imminent. After the success of the global research effort, the next challenge will be distribution of the vaccine and the rapid immunization of millions of people across the globe. Is Germany ready for the task ahead?
Along with other EU countries, Germany signed advance purchase agreements with several vaccine developers. Once supplied to the 27 designated delivery centers, the available doses will be distributed among the federal states. They will then coordinate the operation of vaccination centers in order to make them available to the population.
Even prior to approval, preparations were made to manufacture vaccines in order to avoid delays later on. According to the industry association vfa, at least ten pharma companies in Germany are directly involved in the vaccine production process. Three of these companies – Rentschler, Dermapharm and Siegfried – play a role in the manufacturing of the BNT162 vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer. Seven other companies in Germany take part in the production of other Covid-19 vaccines.
Apart from the production of the vaccine itself, millions of special glass vials need to be ready as recipients. German packaging manufacturer Gerresheimer projects global demand of two to three billion glass vials – and is ready to cover at least a third of this demand. SCHOTT, another manufacturer of glass products, will also play a crucial role in bringing the vaccine to the population: The company’s vials are used in three out of four Covid-19 vaccine projects that are in clinical development.
The numerous vaccines in development worldwide have different temperature requirements. For example, BioNTech and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine needs storage at -70°C, which is a challenge for the logistics industry as it makes a high-performance cold chain indispensable. Several companies in Germany use their expertise in cooling technology to ensure appropriate transport of the vaccines. Thermal container manufacturer Va-Q-Tec plans to supply 100,000 portable low temperature boxes next year.
Companies that produce freezers capable of -70°C cooling have reported an increase in orders: Birgitt Nolden, CEO of Tritec in Hannover, recorded twice as many orders until November compared to last year, and the refrigerator manufacturer Binder in Tuttlingen has expanded its capacity to meet exploding demand. With its close-meshed transport network and a logistics industry that is used to moving high volumes, Germany provides favorable conditions for the swift and effective distribution of vaccines. German Minister of Health Jens Spahn said: ”We want to start vaccinating before the end of the year.“