Supporting the delivery of a Covid-19 Vaccine

 

“Universal vaccine access is already a major challenge. With COVID-19, rapid mass immunisation will probably be required; maintaining a continuous cold chain to rapidly transport and deliver COVID-19 vaccines to all communities, many where electricity supply and cooling infrastructure is often non-existent or unreliable, will be a daunting task.

“Given most of the technologies deployed today will still be in operation in the next decade, the emergence of sustainable and off-grid cold-chain devices allows us the opportunity to create sustainable solutions for COVID-19 vaccine deployment that also can deliver resilient and sustainable health cold-chain systems as a lasting legacy.”

Professor Toby Peters

Bangladesh and Beyond

Our Scientists will work in Bangladesh to create a blueprint to help ensure that medics can get a COVID-19 vaccine to everyone who needs it across the Global South.

Universal vaccine access is already a major challenge in low-income countries, due to the lack of robust refrigerated cooling networks especially to remote communities. Mass vaccination for COVID-19 will need to deliver vaccines to people globally at scale and speed never before considered.

Supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), an international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University will work with their counterparts at BRAC University, in Bangladesh, and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) to assess the capacity and preparedness of Bangladesh’s cold-chain framework – creating a roadmap and model for global COVID-19 vaccination.

Find out more: Blueprint to vaccinate Bangladesh and Beyond

Africa

Scientists are launching a key study to help African nations prepare for the sustainable distribution of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Mass, rapid COVID-19 vaccination will be an immense challenge for sub-Saharan Africa countries with significant rural populations and existing cold-chain infrastructure will need to be significantly improved if a vaccine is to reach the people who need it.

Working with the United Nations Environment Program – United for Efficiency team, researchers from the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, are undertaking a fast-track study in Rwanda to explore how the cold-chain is currently used to distribute vaccines in the country.

The study will also define gaps in infrastructure and develop strategies for sustainable COVID-19 vaccine delivery. Findings will help governments, vaccine development agencies, pharma and logistics companies begin to plan for the future.

Find out more: exploring how people in Africa can access COVID-19 vaccine

India

Scientists from the Centre for Sustainable cooling have launched a major new research project in India that will help to engineer an efficient and sustainable delivery mechanism – ready to get an eventual COVID-19 vaccine to billions of people around the globe.

Researchers racing to develop, test and manufacture an effective coronavirus vaccine will also need to distribute the drug globally, but universal vaccine access is already a major challenge, particularly in low-income countries across the global South – partly due to the lack of robust cold-chains.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization estimates that only 10% of health care facilities in the world’s poorest countries have a reliable electricity supply while in some countries less than 5% of health centres have vaccine-qualified refrigerators.

Backed by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, experts from the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh are joining forces with non-profit, commercial and academic partners to begin investigating the scale of challenge involved in distributing a potentially temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccine.

Find out more: Launching a race to develop sustainable COVID-19 vaccine delivery

The Cost of Broken Cold-Chains

Before March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that, as a result of broken cold-chain, there are more than 1.5 million deaths globally from vaccine-preventable diseases every year – 30% of which are among children under five. WHO estimates that more than 25% of some vaccines may be wasted globally every year because of temperature control and logistics failure.

The successful delivery of an eventual Covid-19 vaccine to all those that need it is dependent of established cold-chains around the globe. Researchers from the Centre for Sustainable Cooling have been working on solving the cold-chain conundrum for many years, establishing ways to deliver to deliver Cooling for All.

Examples of this research can be found in our resource section.