From Invention to Injection
Ecolab has been providing vital support to pharmaceutical companies developing Covid-19 vaccines.
Since the emergence of COVID-19 nearly a year ago, pharmaceutical companies around the world have worked at unprecedented pace to deliver an effective vaccine.
Although prior vaccine development took years, and sometimes decades, this time around it has had to happen in a fraction of that time to halt the pandemic, save countless lives and revive the world economy,
The development of vaccines is a painstakingly complex process with manufacturing at scale—and, more precisely, manufacturing sufficient doses to protect all 7.5 billion people on Earth representing the pharmaceutical equivalent of the Apollo project
Vaccine developers, however, have not had the luxury of a decade to prepare for their moonshot and even on the cusp of the global roll out, a gargantuan effort will be required that takes global cooperation to an unseen scale.
Ecolab has been involved at all stages to ensure vaccines are developed, and produced in clean and safe environments.
A dependable partner
The company is working with several companies involved in COVID-19 vaccine development. When the virus first started to spread, these companies drew up extremely ambitious plans to compress the development timeline. Since any supply chain hiccup would cause delays, dependable partners were essential.
With its decades of experience and problem-solving capabilities, Ecolab is helping keep pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine efforts on track. As manufacturers mobilize their cross-border supply chains and facilities around the world, there’s no time to try unproven protocols. Ecolab’s global footprint is helping to standardize processes, enable production surges at existing facilities and fast-track setup at new ones.
The details matter. In one instance, a major vaccine maker had to call on Ecolab for assistance when another supplier couldn’t deliver enough high-quality surface disinfectant wipes needed disinfect workspaces, threatening to hamstring development work.
Nadeem Ahmed, corporate accounts manager, Life Sciences - who has been involved in supporting pharmaceutical companies in the vaccine race, explains:
"Our solutions are process critical.
"If Ecolab doesn't support these companies, they can basically come to a stop. If you’re the trusted partner with the validated products for their process, there’s no way they’re going to change that process now. We are the piece that keeps it moving."
Clean spaces for development
Creating a vaccine combines years and sometimes decades of painstaking research and testing, as well as rigorously controlled workspaces. Quality assurance is crucial, beginning from the earliest research phase.
The environments in which vaccines are developed are highly controlled, requiring precise conditions. From hand hygiene products to comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting programs and end-to-end cleanroom solutions, Ecolab ensures consistent results. This mitigates risk of contamination that could lead to false results or costly delays.
Ensuring consistency in manufacturing
The same rigorously controlled environments are needed for the manufacturing process. Ecolab’s solutions are expansive, such as its Bioquell technology that uses hydrogen peroxide vapor to decontaminate work spaces and personal protective equipment, disinfectants used to clean surfaces and essential equipment, and the clean-in-place solutions that allow manufacturers to effectively clean pipes and vessels in minimum time between production runs.
"We have validated processes in place to support the manufacturing side," says Lee Josey, assistant vice president of corporate accounts, Life Sciences. "That means we can prove that things are clean and help the company produce highly consistent, verifiable results."
With production set to ramp up to hundreds of millions of doses per month very soon, that consistency is crucial. Ecolab’s validated products and protocols have proven their value and are ready to be scaled up right now.
Vaccine manufacturing, storage and distribution require strict temperature controls. The ultracold temperatures required for some of the vaccines that are set to be rolled out make facility temperature management crucial. Incorrect temperatures for a single production batch could compromise millions of vaccine doses.
That means plant temperature control systems must work correctly, which depends on sound water management. This can be achieved with Ecolab’s 3D TRASAR™ Technology, with its digitally networked sensors that enable real-time precision monitoring and adjustment of water systems.
Mark Tucker, corporate account manager for pharmaceutical sector customers in Europa for Ecolab’s Nalco Water division, explains the importance of quality control, when he says: "We provide our customers with technological solutions to minimize the risk of corrosion, scaling, microbiological fouling and other problems in their water systems, which helps ensure that vaccine production lines have efficient cooling, heating and chilling."
Distribution and delivery
Ecolab’s hand hygiene, cleaning, and disinfecting products and associated programs are in use at hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the world. Products like wipes, disinfectant cleaners and hand sanitizers have been in high demand, and Ecolab has stepped up efforts to meet global needs that are higher than ever.
When the COVID-19 vaccines become widely available, they will likely be first administered primarily at hospitals and clinics. With many thousands of people coming through, these facilities will have to continue to keep patients and staff as safe as possible. That will mean masks and physical distancing, but it will also require rigorous cleaning and sanitizing.
When it is your turn to get immunized and you see the Ecolab logo throughout your local hospital or healthcare facility, remember that the vaccine you are about to receive is the result of an unparalleled scientific and logistical effort – and Ecolab has been there to support it every step of the way.