The German firm playing a crucial role in the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines
Natalie Carney


There are many moving parts in the international roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and as global infection rates continue to rise, the need for these jabs is increasingly urgent.

In Germany alone, close to 51,000 people have died with the virus since March of last year. The global figure is more than 2 million.

Biotech and pharmaceutical vaccine developers are rushing to meet supply demands, while logistics companies and healthcare professionals are racing to get them into billions of arms across the world.

In the mix of all this is the German company Va-Q-tec.

The high-tech company, which specializes in temperature-control logistics, has been instrumental in the transportation of vaccines from urban centers to the most remote corners of the world with its thermal insulation storage.



Headquartered in the Bavarian city of Wurzburg, Va-Q-tec's fleet of containers, boxes and pallets are the only ones that can transport at sub-zero temperatures independent of electricity, says the company's CEO, Joachim Kuhn.

"These containers are like a very, very big thermos bottle," he explains. 

"They are vacuum insulated in the walls and then you have some temperature storage material inside and these two components enable the container to transport the goods inside for five to 10 days at a constant temperature whatever it is. It could be plus 20, even minus 70, which is now very important in these days of coronavirus."

This has made Va-Q-tec instrumental in the global transportation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires refrigeration at -70 degrees Celsius. 

Other potentially life-saving vaccines and medicines also require some form of cooling, says Kuhn, making every step of the logistic chain extremely important. 

"Seventy five percent of our business is now temperature-controlled logistics," he says. "Sometimes we are very deeply involved in many trade lanes, sometimes we are only a part of this international distribution. However, we play an important part in this distribution globally, with most of the vaccines which are now on the market."

Many German companies have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, including BioNTech which, along with the U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer, developed the first vaccine to hit the global market.


CEO Joachim Kuhn inspects Va-Q-tec's insulated vacuum panels. /Natalie Carney

CEO Joachim Kuhn inspects Va-Q-tec's insulated vacuum panels. /Natalie Carney


Other German companies have contributed with protective equipment and others, such as Va-Q-tec, have been driving international logistics, getting the inoculations to every corner of the world.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the company transported more than 50 percent of test kits needed, having to face the many challenges caused by restricted travel and border closures.

With two factories in Germany, seven subsidiaries, and 40 temperature-change service centers around the world, including one in Shanghai, Va-Q-tec is aiming to produce 10,000 pallet-size containers to help facilitate the ever-growing global COVID-19 vaccine market.

"Now in the time of coronavirus," Kuhn says, "everybody understands the need of this key technology."

The global roll-out of inoculations has been criticized for being slow, yet more international developers are getting government approvals for their vaccines, meaning Va-Q-tec and many other logistics companies are likely to be kept busy for a long time to come.

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