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Movianto’s lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine work shortlisted for top award

The biggest vaccine rollout in UK history

In with a great shot: Movianto’s lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine work shortlisted for top award

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.”

Vaccines distribution…before Covid-19 hit the UK

In usual times, Movianto, a Walden Group company, is responsible for the children’s routine vaccinations and large parts of the seasonal flu programme for the NHS in the UK, the Crown dependencies (of the Isle of Man, and Jersey and Guernsey) and UK Overseas Territories, such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

Since 2005, the company has stored, coordinated, and distributed the long-standing vaccines, such as the MMR, polio and diphtheria, all year-round. And each September to November, it makes sure hospitals and doctors’ surgeries have the annual flu boosters they need to protect their most vulnerable patients.

“I’ve worked in logistics for more than 30 years, and it’s safe to say the Covid vaccine operation has been the biggest challenge of my life,” said Paul. “But I’m extraordinarily proud of my whole team for the work they have done.

“We’ve had to be creative, resilient and tenacious to make it happen. And we continue to be working at maximum speed to get the booster campaign rolled out now too.

“It would be fabulous for the team to receive some recognition for what they’ve done.

“Because our job is behind the scenes, it can be overlooked. But without their skills, hard work and determination, this couldn’t have been half as successful,” said Paul.

Vaccine distribution…after Covid-19 hit the UK

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)

Attracting staff for an essential but secret mission

Just as importantly, Movianto knew they had to attract more, careful, methodical, and dedicated people to work inside the supply centre and to reach the hundreds of outlets in the network.

However, again, there was a lot of unknowns.

  • When they started recruiting, they didn’t know just how many people they would need, precisely what their job role would be, and done at a time when many people were furloughed (and getting most of their pay without working) and not always looking for a new job.
  • But hardest of all, because the programme was of such a sensitive and potentially security challenging nature, they couldn’t tell applicants upfront what they would be working with, and it couldn’t appear on any of the recruitment materials

The firm also had to create and roll out an extensive training plan – in pandemic safety conditions – to make sure the different technologies were managed in the individual ways necessary.

Movianto is now a finalist in the prestigious Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Awards for Excellence 2021.

The other finalists at DHL and Kuehne+Nage. The winner will be announced in March.

Some useful facts and figures from the largest vaccine rollout in UK history (as of 3 January 22)

  • More than 140m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine stored and distributed around the UK by Movianto. The team has been working around the clock to keep the supply flowing
  • More than 82% of the UK’s over 12s double jabbed
  • More than 250,500 hospitalisations avoided
  • Booster programme now in full swing – with more than 34 million doses administered
  • More than 127,500 lives already saved (and counting)
  • Early research has shown Omicron may evade two doses, but a third majorly neutralises it​
Movianto’s lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine work shortlisted for top award

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Last Updated: 05-Jan-2022