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It’s been a long, dark tunnel, but there is a light. The COVID-19 vaccine — coupled with a better medical understanding of the pandemic that has caused untold tragedy across the world — represents real hope that coronavirus recovery is on its way. However, if this recovery is to be successful, medical teams and pharma developers need to be supported.

This support can take many forms, but one of the most simple — and yet also the most effective — is to ensure widespread availability of the day-to-day equipment pieces that medical professionals need if they are to combat COVID.

Day-to-day equipment pieces, such as pharma trays, are used for the safe handling of vaccines and other materials. These humble vaccine trays are on the front line in the recovery from COVID-19, and here’s why.

Keeping vaccines safe and secure

The roll-out of a vaccine is always a large-scale process. The very nature of vaccines — and the very way in which they work — necessitates that a high proportion of at-risk individuals can gain access to the inoculations they need. If this proportion of successful vaccinations is not achieved, the roll-out will fail.

COVID-19 has upped the ante in this area. The pandemic has ravaged communities across the world and brought the economies of whole nations to their knees. This makes it critical that vaccination programs can be achieved on an unprecedented scale.

Choosing the right vial tray is an important part of achieving this success. This means selecting a vial tray that will not become damaged or put out of action if it is dropped or if it experiences an impact — common occurrences during large scale manufacture and distribution. Unfortunately, standard stainless steel vial trays cannot achieve this level of durability, which is why composite trays are increasingly being deployed at the forefront of COVID recovery.

Compatibility with Sterilization Equipment

Sterilization is always an important process in pharma manufacture and distribution, as this destroys pathogens that can harm public health. With this in mind, all storage and sorting equipment needs to be designed to handle extremely high temperatures and should be tested to prove this. Vial trays are, of course, no exception.

If pharma development teams and medical professionals suddenly find that the trays they are using are not compatible with sterilization equipment, this is going to cause a serious delay to the roll-out of the vaccine. Specially designed stainless steel trays are compatible with such equipment, but — as noted above — this material is not without other downsides.

If composite trays are to be deployed in the pharma production line, they need to be up to the task and capable of withstanding extremely high temperatures. Many composites are tested to temperatures of up to 250 Fahrenheit, making them ideal for deployment within sterilization chambers and autoclaves.

Long-term usage

The fact that modern vial trays can withstand impact and other forces, as well as extreme temperatures, is a massive boost to medical workers and to pharma manufacturers during the recovery from COVID-19, but the trays must be able to offer more than this. They must be able to guarantee this kind of performance in the long term.

This means an increase in the intensity of, and the duration of, testing. The composite materials used to craft the trays need to be able to do more than merely stand up to one or two instances of being dropped on the floor, or of being placed under extreme pressure in an autoclave. The materials need to be able to achieve this on a regular basis, in the long-term.

It’s not feasible for care providers or pharmaceutical manufacturers to simply replace their pharma trays every few months. Instead, they need trays that they can rely on again and again for the foreseeable future. The vaccination process is likely to be a long one and may need to continue indefinitely until the pandemic is brought under control. Composite materials are helping organizations that handle vaccines and other related pharmaceuticals lay the foundations of a successful roll-out.

Avoiding contamination

Vial trays are critical at all stages of pharma production and vaccine roll-out. We’ve touched upon how these trays are used for transport and sterilization, among other processes, but, in fact, vaccines and pharmaceuticals need to be kept in trays at all times if they are to be effective.

This is because of contamination. If materials become contaminated, they will not meet the standards of safety and quality outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as those of other bodies. Even worse, the contamination can cause materials to become defective and can even put public health at risk.

The spacing offered by vial trays helps to keep all materials neatly separated at all times. This means they remain free from contamination, securing compliance with regulation and best practice.

Reducing the cost of recovery

Cost is always at top of mind when it comes to healthcare and pharma development, and this is a particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. While pharma producers, healthcare providers, and everyone involved in the long road to COVID recovery are keen to work with the very best equipment available, they still have budgets to consider.

Composite vial and vaccine trays do not need to put organizations at risk of going over budget. These trays can be procured cheaply and can even result in cost savings for buyers.

Typically, a stainless steel tray costs around $200 to $300 per tray, depending on the purchase volume and other factors. A composite tray may cost only a fraction of this, making it easy for healthcare organizations to achieve more with their budgets.

Vial Trays are Just One Piece of the Puzzle, but it’s an Important Piece

There are many different factors that will contribute to the successful recovery from COVID. In the grand scheme of things, vial trays may seem relatively unimportant, but it is these crucial pieces of kit that will give medical teams the capability to protect public health in the coming year and beyond. Innovations at this level — including the introduction of composite materials in the manufacture of pharma trays — will have a profound impact as the vaccine roll-out gathers pace.