28 April, 2021

Ziccum AB: ‘Thermostable dry powder vaccines can play a key role in six UN Sustainable Development Goals’ – CFO

Ziccum AB is now integrating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into every aspect of its industrial and business strategy. CFO Frida Hjelmberg: “We have identified that our regional Fill and Finish plants formulating thermostable dry powder vaccines needing no Cold Chain could be a major engine for six key SDGs. The cost of rolling out such a new approach might seem high–but with the global economy standing to lose up to 9.2 trillion USD if we fail to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for LMI (low and middle income) economies, this makes great financial sense.”

“We have now placed sustainability at the heart of our strategic, business and operational focus” says Ziccum CFO Frida Hjelmberg. “Our commitment covers everything from our fast-moving product development work as we develop LaminarPace for industrial scale-up and GMP certification from the EMA – to the strategic collaborations we are working to progress with the UN, UNICEF, WHO, CEPI and more. We agree with GAVI that increased immunization is important in helping achieve almost all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and we have identified six SDGs in particular that we believe our technology can play a significant role in.”

Breaking the vicious Cold Chain cycle

Ziccum aims to develop a series of Fill and Finish vaccine formulation plants worldwide, beginning in Sweden, built around its LaminarPace ambient air-drying system. Each plant would enable the local production of up to 30 million vials of thermostable dry powder vaccine, yielding up to 300 million doses. All could be transported in any climate, with no refrigerated Cold Chain. Significant reduction in carbon emissions in vaccine supply would directly help reduce many of the most important factors triggering pandemics Hjelmberg points out:

“Imbalances in the ecosystem, increased deforestation, habitat and species loss – all these directly fuel new pandemics” she says, “and yet the global Cold Chain we currently use to ship vaccines to treat these pandemics in itself is vast carbon-intense and thereby fuels more climate damage – in turn fueling more pandemics. It’s a vicious Cold Chain circle. Locally produced thermostable vaccines needing no Cold Chain would help remove vaccines from this vicious cycle. Economically it would be win-win-win-win, driving positive climate action, vaccine coverage and a sustainable development in LMI countries.”

The cost of unequal vaccine distribution

Hjelmberg argues strongly that regional vaccine manufacture and supply is crucial for global financial stability and prosperity. “According to studies (1) the global economy stands to lose as much as 9.2 trillion USD if the world fails to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for LMI economies” she says. “A global supply system that means some parts of the world get access to vaccines, but others don’t not only cause deaths – it spawns new virus mutations and leads to economic devastation. A new mechanism and new innovation is needed to ensure effective and sustainable ways to deploy vaccine access around the globe. Equal vaccine distribution will also minimize domestic economic damage due to interruptions in trading with unvaccinated regions. Ironically, significant parts of the economic cost in the absence of global vaccine coverage will be borne by the advanced economies, even if they manage to vaccinate their own citizens.”

Hjelmberg is optimistic about the growing agreement amongst vaccine players that new innovations and solutions for vaccine supply are urgently needed: “The cost of rolling out regional production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines might seem high but it will be far cheaper than suffering the long-term economic effects of the pandemic. As John WH Denton, ICC Secretary General said – ‘This is not an act of charity – this is economic common sense’.

“By working together and innovating boldly we can defeat Covid-19 and improve vaccine coverage, climate action and sustainable development. Removing vaccines from the vicious cold chain cycle of global carbon-intensive supply chains could create a new virtuous cycle of sustainable growth and development, with vaccines at its heart.”

Read about Ziccum’s 6 target SDGs here

(1) https://iccwbo.org/publication/the-economic-case-for-global-vaccinations/