Va-Q-tec signs major thermal container deal for Covid vaccine

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Va-Q-tec strikes a comprehensive agreement with an un-named global pharmaceutical manufacturer for the international distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine in Q1 2021.

While not specifying the pharma company, only two vaccines – aside from Russian and Chinese versions – are close to being approved. These include US-based manufacturers such as Pfizer’s vaccine which must be maintained at -70 °C, along with Moderna.

The order volume comprises several thousand high-performance transport containers, according to va-Q-tec. The parties intend to conclude a final agreement soon concerning the total volume of the partnership based on the ‘heads of terms’ agreement. The approval of the active substance is a prerequisite for this agreement but at this stage, it is assumed that such approval will be granted.

The present agreement is the most extensive in our twenty-year corporate history, and perhaps one of the most extensive in the sector ever.” – Joachim Kuhn, CEO and founder of va-Q-tec.

As part of the agreement, the customer is securing capacities for international, temperature-controlled vaccine distribution. Such capacities could become increasingly scarce, according to sector information.

The global provider of thermal containers and boxes for temperature-controlled logistics says this likely makes the company the first in the thermal container sector to agree a confirmed partnership for large-scale global thermal transports in connection with the CoVod- 19 vaccine.

Va-Q-tec says it also in advanced negotiations aimed at comparable partnerships with other international vaccine manufacturers.

The German company adds it has a “great responsibility” in its portion of the vaccine transport chain. “In addition to the development and validation of the vaccine, which is currently taking place under intense pressure, secure worldwide distribution is considered a mammoth logistical and technical task,” it says.

As part of the agreement, va-Q-tec has agreed that, subject to approval, the worldwide, large-volume distribution of the pharma company’s vaccines deploying va-Q-tec’s transport solutions, is to start in the first quarter of 2021.

Va-Q-tec says investments made to date have enabled the expansion of its fleet, creating the necessary capacities for this order, as well as for possible follow-up orders. The fleet will be expanded significantly further over the coming months, it adds.

Va-Q-tec’s high-tech passive transport containers provide key technology required for temperature-controlled vaccine distribution, reliably maintaining constant temperatures in various ranges between -70 °C and 25 °C – including over several days.

As a consequence, the German company operates the world’s largest fleet of thermal containers, whose interiors maintain even low temperature ranges at a constant level of -20 °C and below over a period of several days. For this reason, va-Q-tec highlights it is in an ideal position to provide secure and reliable logistics for the valuable vaccine in the context of such a large-scale request, and has already many years of experience with international transports below -60 °C.

The company offers a unique, coordinated portfolio of different high-performance thermal container and box solutions that enable it to handle such a complex, international logistic task. In addition to large-volume international shipments, all types of transport can be realised utilising the same proven technology, including on the last mile to the end customer or patient, according to va-Q-tec.

The company offers a fleet of several thousand high-tech rental containers within its network of 40 international stations. Reliable availability for increased global demand or transportation to countries with challenging logistics infrastructures is also ensured by a container variant that is available for purchase: With the va-Q-pal SI, a cost-efficient and sustainable pallet container has been specially developed that reliably maintains required temperatures for many days. It can be re-qualified several times, enabling it to be re-utilised at its original performance level.

Coronavirus vaccines are already being moved in the company’s thermal transport solutions, some of them are being pre-produced and distributed in large volumes on a pre-approval basis in order to supply the population with the vaccines immediately after official approval.

Joachim Kuhn

In many such cases, little data is available on stability during transport and storage. Consequently, va-Q-tec transports the same coronavirus vaccines on an intercontinental basis at -70 °C, as well as on a local microdistribution basis at +2 to 8°C. In both cases this is accomplished using the same boxes and containers.

“First-class scientists have developed a vaccine within a very short time, and we are now helping to distribute the vaccine with our secure transport solutions,” says Joachim Kuhn, CEO and founder of va-Q-tec. “The present agreement is the most extensive in our twenty-year corporate history, and perhaps one of the most extensive in the sector ever.

“With our unique technology, our broad portfolio and our years of experience with low and very low temperatures, we can optimally support the global distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. Thanks to the extensive expansion of our container and box fleet as well as our worldwide network, we offer ideal prerequisites for tackling this enormous logistics challenge. We are proud to be able to make our contribution to the major common goal of the global battle against the CoVid-19 pandemic,” Kuhn adds.

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