German glassmaker crucial to coronavirus vaccine

German glassmaker crucial to coronavirus vaccine

A German glassmaker, Schott, has a pivotal role in getting a coronavirus vaccine distributed across the world. Schott manufactures the high-quality borosilicate glass vials that are favoured by the pharmaceutical industry.

Glass gold

With news of coronavirus vaccines reaching up to 95 percent efficacy hitting the news recently, it is perhaps a small wonder why people are expecting vaccines to be rolled out sooner rather than later. A crucial aspect to the supply of the coronavirus vaccine is storage, and it is a German glassmaker, Schott, that provides the vials for more than three-quarters of the vaccine trials taking place around the world.

Schott was founded in 1884 by Otto Schott, who invented the high-quality borosilicate glass that was initially known as Jena glass. Borosilicate glass has since become the preferred choice of the pharmaceutical industry and, according to Schott’s head of communications, Christina Rettig, it is considered the “gold standard” for storing drugs.

Retting told reporters that Schott is working with vaccine manufacturers, which are protected by non-disclosure agreements, and aims to produce enough vials to store two billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.

Supplying the world

Back in July, Schott, and some of its competitors, released a statement promising they could meet the demand from the pharmaceutical industry. The demand for top quality borosilicate glass has risen considerably over the past few years from countries such as China, so Schott and its competitors had already been increasing their production capacity prior to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Schott is producing vials 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand, but the company had to deal with a coronavirus outbreak at its Mitterteich factory in Bavaria earlier this year. Visitors have thus been prohibited from entering company premises to minimise the risk of infections.

Schott is an international company and a global leader in the industry, employing around 16.000 people in over 30 countries. The borosilicate glass it manufactures can withstand extreme temperatures (from -80 to 500 degrees Celsius) and causes no reaction with any liquid stored inside. This makes it ideal for storing vaccines, especially considering the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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