The specialist healthcare logistics firm at the centre of the UK’s incredible Covid-19 vaccine rollout is in with a great shot of winning a prestigious award for its lifesaving and ground-breaking work during the pandemic.
The team at Movianto faced the toughest of challenges when asked by the government – at the height of the pandemic’s first wave – to develop the supply line and central storage arrangements for the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“Vaccine distribution is what we do day-in, day-out. But even we had to take a deep breath at times,” said Paul Wilkinson, President of Movianto UK.
“At the start, we didn’t even know the storage criteria; we weren’t aware of what the volume would be, and – as importantly – we didn’t know when this programme was likely to start. But we did know, we’d have to do it at break-neck speed, and we knew people’s lives would be relying on it,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure on everyone.”
Despite all the uncertainty, Movianto began preparing for every scenario imaginable.
“Working with Public Health England, we were planning for every eventuality, and, believe me, there were many of them to consider,” said Paul.
“With the Pfizer-BioNTech product, we had to develop the supply line and storage arrangements for a vaccine that was completely new to the world, which had to be stored and transported, in bulk and small quantities, at the staggeringly low temperature of -75°C,” explained the Movianto boss.
“And then we had to accommodate another two new vaccines as well, in Moderna’s, which is stored at -20°C, and AstraZeneca’s, which is chilled, which is more like the vaccines available before the pandemic.”
In a whirlwind six months – and on constantly shifting foundations, with most of the team working extra-long hours, while trying to make sure as many people as possible avoided catching Covid-19 themselves – Movianto had to design an entirely new deep-frozen cold-chain mass vaccination storage and distribution service.
- This required a new dedicated – and highly secure – Covid-19 vaccination storage centre for new types of vaccines never used or distributed to anyone before
- Movianto had to reorganise, repurpose, and refit one of its warehouses in the north of the UK, and later, build a new purpose-built centre to service the south. They also had to re-engineer all their IT systems so they could be compatible with the NHS’s ordering processes and streamline the operation
- The company also had to source a new fleet of specialist vehicles to reach the hundreds of outlets in the NHS vaccination network (which has, so far, included 267 hospital hubs, 204 centres run by pharmacies, 1036 GP run outlets and 117 mass vaccination centres)
- Ahead of the rest of the developing world, and when many factories were in lockdown, the firm had to source and acquire hundreds of Ultra-Low-Temperature (ULT) laboratory quality freezers, thousands of specialist cool boxes, -21°C gel packs, and kilos upon kilos of dry ice (353,000 at last count)
Movianto is now a finalist in the prestigious Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Awards for Excellence 2021.