It has long been known that vaccines are among the 20th century’s most successful and cost-effective public health tools. Now, with more than 60 COVID-19 vaccines in human testing worldwide and an expected 14 billion doses needed to facilitate a global vaccination program, these life-saving therapeutics have taken center stage in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the entire planet.

Now that several different vaccine candidates have been approved and authorized for either limited or full use, the global supply chain will have to accommodate a number of logistical solutions to ensure that a viable drug reaches the intended recipient in a quick and efficient way. With some manufacturers stating requirements for –20 °C or even –80 °C temperatures to ensure drug stability, that’s not easy to achieve.

Ultra-low cold transport systems may not, however, be the only option. By utilizing the process of freeze drying, for example, delicate, unstable or heat-sensitive drugs and biologicals can be dried at low temperatures without damaging their physical structure.  

Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines are viable on arrival

In addition, freeze-dried products can be reconstituted both quickly and easily, which is particularly valuable in the case of emergency vaccines and/or antibodies that need to be administered as fast as possible. This overcomes many of the common issues associated with cold-chain distribution: the transportation of frozen materials can be difficult and expensive; equipment failure equals lost product; and, overall, it’s a costly process that requires a lot of space. 

Although not every molecule or end product is lyophilization compatible, freeze drying may present a versatile, efficient and cost-effective solution to ensuring the shelf-life of expensive sterile drugs such as vaccines and enabling them to be transported anywhere in the world.

With access to some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment and a wealth of expertise and experience to call on, GEA fundamentally understands the processes involved in vaccine production, the capabilities of the technologies employed and the engineering required to ensure that they operate at optimum capacity with the lowest maintenance.  

From the planning phase up to the construction and automation of turnkey plants and process lines, we have the scale, the know-how and the flexibility required to meet your specific application requirements.

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