IChemE welcomes vaccine announcement but calls for engineering focus

Article by Amanda Doyle

ICHEME’s Covid-19 Response Team has welcomed the early results on the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and called on the Government to focus on the engineering needed to ensure the required number of courses of the vaccine can be delivered.

IChemE, in partnership with the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering UK Affiliate (ISPE UK), brought together a team of engineers with experience in industrial manufacture of vaccines. The development, scale-up, and manufacture of vaccines requires the knowledge of chemical engineers, biochemical engineers, and process engineers.

Following the announcement that the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine candidate has been shown to be 90% effective in an interim analysis of data from the phase 3 trial, IChemE has congratulated those involved and acknowledged the significant progress made by interdisciplinary teams.

The IChemE team is now calling on the Government and public health organisations to focus on the complex engineering required for vaccine delivery, as there are still many questions regarding the logistics of manufacturing, transportation, and storage of the vaccine.

Peter Dodd, a member of the IChemE Covid-19 Response Team and ISPE UK Covid-19 Response Project Manager, said: “This positive news must not take our eyes off the broad spectrum of actions needed to combat Covid-19 at this critical stage. It is vital that we continue to focus on our own individual behaviours, the NHS frontline, therapeutics, an effective isolate system, and other vaccine candidates.

“This particular vaccine requires an unusually cold and widespread distribution chain. The desirability to manufacture and implement this vaccine in an unprecedented timescale, whilst ensuring its safe and effective use, will require the expert involvement of many scientists, engineers and medics. We wish them well whilst strongly recommending that all other options continue to be investigated. Though this week’s announcement is extremely welcome, we must continue to focus on data and practical implementation, not just the press release.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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