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BioNTech-How Pfizer Wins Vaccine Race

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It was breakfast on the winter morning of January 24th that Ozrem Turech and her husband Ugur Sahin decided that “this requires a starter pistol to be fired”.

Sahin said, “From a publication describing a case of coronavirus in Wuhan, we concluded that a pandemic was likely imminent,” Tureci said.

Operation Lightspeed was born by the decision of the couple, the founders of a small German company called BioNTech. Scientists at the company have devoted all their resources from cancer treatment research to the discovery of vaccines that block COVID-19.

“Since that day, we haven’t stopped working on this project,” Tureci said.

Four days later, on January 28, Germany confirmed the first case of coronavirus infection. It is also the first human-to-human transmission in European soil.

The epidemic that hit China most quickly turned into a global health crisis, with governments having to close borders, schools and offices, keep the population home and stop the spread. did.

As BioNTech and other pharmaceutical companies take action in search of the secrets of victory, the military of the German “Mittelstand” company and other larger manufacturing and logistics professionals will soon become important.

Genie in the bottle

One such company, just a few minutes drive from BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz, quietly increased production.

A 130-year-old company, Shot is actually a major player in the pharmaceutical industry due to its small glass vials designed to hold life-saving vaccines.

Three-quarters of the more than 100 coronavirus inoculation tests conducted worldwide will eventually use Schott products.

The company alone aims to produce enough vials to hold 2 billion coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2021. Communication Director Christina Rettig told AFP.

The shot itself had an early fear of the virus at the Mitterteich factory in Bavaria.

The town became one of Germany’s first coronavirus hotspots in March after the beer festival. Rettig said several shot workers in the Czech Republic “did not meet friends and family for weeks” because the border was closed.

Cargo steps up

Most of the passenger flights had landed, so the turmoil at the Frankfurt Airport terminal almost disappeared in the spring.

However, the cargo area continued to hum. Tens of thousands of boxes of urgently needed surgical gowns and masks had passed.

Max Philipp Conradi, head of Fraport’s cargo infrastructure, knew it was just the beginning of his division in the pandemic battle.

At that time, no one knew which company would find the vaccine and when it would be ready, but Frankfurt is already Europe’s largest hub for transporting medicines.

As a result, it was necessary to begin planning for the unprecedented logistics challenge of transporting millions of life-saving vaccines worldwide.

Fraport’s vast temperature-controlled hangar processed 120,000 tonnes of vaccines, medicines and other medicines in 2019.

Operators predicted demand for refrigeration and boosted investment in the high-tech refrigeration “Dolly,” which transports hangars to planes. Currently there are 20 vessels, so multiple cargo ships can be loaded at the same time.

It’s cold

Fraport wasn’t the only one to increase investment in solutions to keep things cool.

Cold chain management expertise has become the town’s next most popular product, as it became clear that BioNTech vaccines need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit).

There seems to be a German company for all ambiguous applications in the global scramble to solve the problem of keeping the vaccine at the right temperature when it is shipped around the world.

Tuttlingen’s binder includes a “super freezer,” already used as early as March to cool the coronavirus used in laboratory studies by BioNTech and another German vaccine developer, CureVac. There is.

However, as BioNTech advanced in the race, demand increased even further.

“It started in August when we received these requests from logistics companies,” said Anne Lenze, a spokeswoman for Binder. They said they needed to install a freezer in the freezer to distribute the vaccine worldwide. I knew it. ”

The binder guaranteed static freezing to minus 90 degrees, but another company, Va-Q-Tec, manufactures mobile boxes with super-cooling capabilities for the actual transportation process.

Using silica particle technology, containers can maintain temperatures ranging from refrigerator-like temperatures to polar chills for up to 10 days “without the need for energy input,” said CEO Joachim Kuhn, AFP. Told to.

On November 18, BioNTech and its partner Pfizer finally announced that their Phase III trials were approximately 95% effective against the virus.

The news drove the stock market to euphoria and was welcomed as a watershed of light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.

By that time, the logistics department was rarely going.

As Fraport’s Conradi said, “We are ready from August.”

“Champagne is not ours”

The founders of BioNTech knew that it was too early to celebrate and settle for glory in a discreet way.

“Champagne isn’t ours. We sat down and enjoyed tea and spent time looking back at what had happened so far and what would happen next,” Sahin told AFP. It was.

In the German capital, hundreds of kilometers away, 66-year-old Albrecht Broemme put a lot of Lego figures here and there, visualizing how to turn an old Berlin airport into the center of an unprecedented vaccination drive.

Bronme, a former firefighter and former head of the civil protection agency THW, was asked to retire to support the pandemic battle.

Early on, he was crucial in designing an emergency site in case the number of patients exceeded the capacity of the hospital.

In the fall, he was tapped again to conceptualize a vaccination drive in the German capital.

“Given the number of (vaccination) booths and the amount of space needed to prevent bottlenecks, I came up with the system,” he said.

Each visitor will follow a designated route from registration to the actual jab, proceed to a consultation with a doctor, and go to the waiting room during the final final check.

Patients should be in and out of the doctor’s private room in minutes, according to Bronme. “I think this all takes an hour,” including queuing and waiting time.

1,100 questions

When approved by the United Kingdom on December 2, the BioNTech vaccine was first approved for western use.

Other countries, from the United States to Saudi Arabia and Singapore, followed suit, and Germany urged EU drug regulators to expedite the decision from 29 December.

On December 21, EMA finally gave a green light more than a week earlier.

That same night, the European Commission announced that the entire block would begin vaccination work on Sunday, December 27th.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn called it a “day of hope” when vaccine doses began to arrive around Europe on Saturday, but vaccination of everyone is a “long-distance” effort. I warned that it would be.

As the first jab was imminent, authorities competed with temporary vaccination centers across Germany for the final touch.

The largest doctor in the country in Hamburg will be able to handle 7,000 jabs daily.

BioNTech also soon held a webinar for nurses and doctors to manage shots, answering 1,100 questions during the session.

A truck carrying vaccines was deployed from the Pfizer factory in Belgium on Wednesday.

BioNTech said it would supply the vaccine directly to 25 distribution sites in charge of the German federal authorities and then send the allocation to 294 districts.

The municipality then injects more jabs into 450 vaccination centers.

Many mobile units are also deployed in hard-to-reach areas.

Federal police with armed commando escort valuable cargo on the move, looking at the potential disruption of corona skeptics and the growing waves of anti-vaxxers.

First-up is the most vulnerable in Elderly Housing with Care, some of which have been hit by deadly outbreaks of the virus.

The vaccination could not come early enough for Germany, and it recorded a record high daily death toll of nearly 1,000 during the week. At least one district reports that the crematorium is full.

At one elderly care facility, due to time constraints, the first vaccinations were given to residents shortly after the dose was given on Saturday, the day before the national vaccination campaign began.

The 101-year-old Edith Kwoizalla became the first person in Germany to receive a jab at an old-age home in Saxony-Anhalt.

For Chancellor Angela Merkel, every jab means life is saved.

“Looking at the number of people dying from the coronavirus, we can see how many lives the vaccine can save.”


Breakfast, freezer, Lego: on the German vaccine trail


© 2020 AFP

Quote: From Lab to Jab: How BioNTech-Pfizer Wins Vaccine Race (December 30, 2020) December 30, 2020 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-lab-jab-biontech Obtained from -pfizer-won-vaccine.html

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