Skip to main content
Home » Vaccines » Collaboration in the race to develop a COVID vaccine

Tony Kirk

Country Business Leader,
Medication Delivery Solutions, BD

Cohesive and coordinated partnerships across governments, industry and healthcare were a critical facet of the race to develop and deliver vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 swept the globe, an urgent drive was launched to implement restrictions to slow the spread and join the race for a vaccine.

Yet beyond ground-breaking research and science to develop the vaccine, there were logistical issues of manufacturing, distributing and delivering the vaccine across populations. Global med-tech company Becton Dickinson (BD), the world’s largest manufacturer of syringes, was among industry partners involved in aspects of the vaccine development.

Vaccine response

Tony Kirk, BD’s Country Business Leader for Medication Delivery Solutions (UK and Ireland), explains the company provided products for the research process, clinical trials, developed point-of-care diagnostic tests, as well as supporting delivery of vaccinations.

Underlining the importance of collaboration in the process of an effective vaccine response, he says: “Collaboration is paramount. In the COVID pandemic, if we did not have collaboration, we would not have achieved what we did, at the pace we did in the past 18 months.

Collaboration from government, health-tech, [pharma], and the NHS and HSE to vaccinate patients has been an incredible success story.

“There was a call to action globally to develop a vaccine in record time. We have been able to produce that in terms of developing a vaccine and then delivery into patients and as a company, I feel we have really contributed to that.”

To date, BD has produced two billion syringes which have been distributed globally to support vaccination programmes, with over 102 million syringes for the vaccination programme in the UK and Ireland.

“I think collaboration from government, health-tech, [pharma], and the NHS and HSE to vaccinate the patients has been an incredible success story.”

But he stresses the need for further development in terms of more efficient vaccines and better delivery of those vaccines to patients, including via the use of pre-filled syringes.

Openness and transparency

Alongside collaboration, he emphasises the need for transparency, openness, forward-planning and information sharing at a time of pandemic.

“One of the key lessons learned from COVID is the need for governments to engage early with med-tech to identify the most effective way to deliver vaccines, but also in terms of capacity and supply-chain resilience,” adds Kirk.

“We know that there have been some challenges in terms of vaccines and volume required but globally, the response to the pandemic was a remarkable success. Although there are learnings we need to take away, particularly in terms of speed of decision making and transparency.

“But partnership and collaboration with government and drug companies is key in the future of handling these pandemics.”

Next article