In the past few weeks there have been two very promising reports about Covid vaccines: First Pfizer and Biontech announced positive interim results from their vaccine study, then the US company Moderna followed. Both want to apply for approval soon.
After months of searching for a vaccine, everything could now go very quickly: “I could imagine that approval could be granted in the USA at the end of the first half of December, the second half of December,” said Biontech CEO Uğur Şahin in an interview with Reuters TV . “A Christmas present, if you like.” This is the start of the concrete preparations for a possible Covid vaccine. Vaccination centers and cold stores are being planned throughout Germany.
But a vaccine alone is not enough. Before it finds its way from the pharmaceutical companies to the vaccination centers and finally to the population, numerous companies are required to form the supply chain with their special products and services: from the vial into which the vaccine is filled, to the refrigeration on the way to the warehouse , the camp itself down to the syringe used to give the vaccine.
These eight companies could be used in the Covid vaccine:
@imago images / Future Image
Tesla / Grohmann
According to his own statements, Tesla boss Elon Musk is working on “RNA mini-factories” for vaccine production with the Tübingen-based biotech company Curevac – and possibly other developers of Covid-19 vaccine candidates. Musk tweeted about the business, pictured at the topping-out ceremony for the Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, in July: “As a side project, Tesla is building RNA mini-factories for Curevac and possibly others.” who is said to have built the so-called printer to have applied for a patent. Such mobile, automated mRNA production units were originally planned with public research funds for the production of vaccines against Lassa fever, rabies and yellow fever.
@imago images / sepp spiegl
The Mainz-based glass manufacturer Schott specializes in special glass and glass ceramics and could make a decisive contribution to the supply chain of the Covid vaccine. Vaccine vials are made from ultra-pure glass to prevent particles from contaminating the vaccine. This borosilicate glass was invented by the company greener Otto Schott in 1887. This glass is now also to be used in the manufacture of the vials for a Covid vaccine. According to its own information, the company has already made agreements with vaccine producers in North America, Europe and Asia. Among other things, Schott is involved in Operation Warp Speed, the US government’s vaccine program.
Together with Schott and the supplier Stevanato, Gerresheimer, based in Düsseldorf, has declared that it wants to provide sufficient material for future Covid-19 vaccines. Each of the three companies annually produces billions of vials from the special borosilicate glass type 1, the quasi-standard in the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to packaging for vaccines, for the needs of the health and pharmaceutical industry on the world market. Gerresheimer manufactures vials and syringes in large plants in the USA, Mexico, Europe and Asia, including China.
Once the vaccine has been securely packaged and transported, it still needs syringes with which it can ultimately be vaccinated. According to the Handelsblatt, the Hessian medical technology company B. Braun has already concluded contracts for the delivery of syringes and needles with some countries and institutions. B. Braun’s products are used in areas such as anesthesia, intensive care medicine and surgery.
In 2001 the company Va-q-tec was founded from the University of Würzburg. Today, with its cool boxes, the company is making an important contribution to the transport of a possible Covid vaccine. Your boxes guarantee temperatures of down to minus 80 degrees for several days. This is important because the vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer has to be stored at minus 70 degrees. A large vaccine producer is said to have already ordered boxes here – it is not known which producer it was. The transport boxes from Va-q-tec were already used when the Corona test kits were sent out in spring.
For warehouses where the vaccines are kept, refrigerators are needed. However, some vaccines have to be stored particularly cool – such as the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and Biontech. A regular refrigerator is not enough. The Binder company from Tuttlingen manufactures ultra-freezers that cool down to minus 80 degrees. Vaccines could be stored here. According to SWR, some federal states have already contacted the company. According to Binder, Curevac also relies on the manufacturer’s refrigerators.
The logistics industry has long been prepared. In a study with the management consultancy McKinsey, the Deutsche Post subsidiary DHL calculated that ten billion vaccine doses would have to be distributed worldwide – and within 18 to 24 months. That is around 200,000 pallets. According to the study, a third of the vaccine batches to be distributed could be mRNA vaccines, which usually have to be refrigerated. But work is also being done to cope with Covid-19 immunization in the cold chains of conventional vaccination campaigns. A DHL warehouse, in which medical products are stored and packaged in different temperature zones, is located near the German-Dutch border. The Life Sciences & Health Care Campus at the Wijchen-Nijmegen location comprises 44,000 square meters of storage space.
B Medical Systems
The Luxembourg-based company claims to be the world’s leading manufacturer of systems for the vaccine cold chain, which are required for programs in emerging countries. It works closely with public health institutions, national governments and multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the UNICEF Children’s Fund, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. The picture shows the transport of a solar-powered refrigerator for vaccines with which the government of Madagascar is equipping 400 health stations that are difficult to reach. The aim is a vaccination campaign for 4.5 million children.