Features & Interviews

How pharmaceutical storage and distribution kept its cool for COVID-19

01 July 2021 #Features & Interviews

The impact of the global pandemic has put pressure on the pharmaceutical storage and distribution sector like never before, as the industry has risen to the vaccine roll-out challenge.

One of the companies at the forefront of ensuring the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines across England has Alloga UK. So far the healthcare logistics specialist has delivered 24.6 million doses of coronavirus vaccine.

Alloga UK, which has more than two decades experience in healthcare logistics, is part of Alliance Healthcare group, one of the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers and distributors in Europe.

Therefore, based on its previous work for NHS England it was able to show that delivering Covid vaccines was a natural extension of its operations.

Since December 2020, the company’s network has distributed vaccines to almost 1,500 sites, including hospitals, major vaccination centres, care homes and prisons, with deliveries taking place up to seven days a week. A dedicated team has ensured that all necessary processes and preparations were followed to distribute vaccines to about 50% of England.

Throughout the process the company has deployed its range of vehicles from HGVs to vans, as well as temperature-controlled trailers.

Its deliveries are fully-validated and temperature-mapped, and the team uses GPRS systems to track its fleet throughout the UK.

Chris Williams, Managing Director, Alloga UK said: “Our unrivalled experience in vaccine distribution has informed our approach and allowed us to work at pace with NHS England in designing and implementing this very complex supply chain within such a short period of time.

“This implementation has been far from easy, but our professional teams coupled with a can-do mentality has allowed us to overcome many logistics challenges and implement an excellent solution.”

In January logistics giant Kuehne & Nagel signed an international supply chain arrangement with Moderna to provide distribution and storage of its Covid-19 vaccine from its pharma hub in Europe, following the granting of conditional marketing authorisation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the vaccine Moderna.

Using its network of more than 230 operations worldwide Kuehne & Nagel distribute the vaccine via road and air to markets in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, and parts of the Americas.

In Europe, the company operates its own fleet of more than 200 dedicated pharmaceutical transport vehicles and at all stages of transport and storage, product integrity at the required temperature of -20°C is maintained.

Kuehne & Nagel already had a relationship with Moderna – its clinical trial logistics subsidiary, QuickSTAT, had been an integral part of the drug manufacturer’s Phase II and Phase III clinical trial supply logistics in the U.S.

Earlier this year Ceva Logistics also launched a new division to focus on temperature-controlled services called ‘For Patients’ and capitalise on the growth of vaccine and medicine transport globally.

Ceva is concentrating on the 2- to 8-degree celsius range of products, including some Covid-19 vaccines, although the firm can support customers with vaccines requiring lower temperatures throughout transport.

Last year, Rea Distribution, based in County Antrim, also took delivery of a Gray and Adams 13.6m multi-temperature trailer – its first temperature-controlled trailer in modern times – to help it manage an increase in operations due to the rise in demand for pharmaceuticals.

The trailer is fitted with a telematics system from Seven Telematics, enabling real-time temperature monitoring.

Rea Distribution is the appointed distribution partner of Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) licence holders Transbridge Freight Service, and is able to offer its clients in the pharmaceutical sector a viable groupage solution that is fully licensed and GDP compliant.

In addition, vehicle manufacturers have been playing their part throughout the pandemic, with Ford describing its work with the NHS to assist with the vaccine roll-out programme as a “historic moment” for the company.

Since May, a specially converted Ford Transit van has been traveling around Essex, as GP practices work with local community leaders to safely deliver and administer vaccines in areas of low uptake.

The bespoke Transit, converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builder, Venari Group, is being used as a hub for dedicated vaccine clinics in the grounds of churches, mosques and other community venues.

Its specification includes medical grade refrigeration with Wifi monitoring capability, vaccine transport coolers, a collapsible chair for administering vaccines as well as an integrated tablet for accessing and updating health and vaccination records.

Mandy Dean, Director of Commercial Vehicles at Ford of Britain said the vehicle manufacturer has worked closely with the NHS and partners across the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership.

“Working with the NHS and community leaders to deliver this brilliant scheme and bolster the exemplary vaccine rollout, has been a privilege”, she said.

“Full credit is due to our conversion partners at Venari Group, who continue to work with us to make thousands of life-saving vehicles for the emergency services every year.”

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