The Stevanato Group was founded on the outskirts of Venice, a city with a long tradition of glassblowing, in 1949 to make bottles for wine and perfume.
Since then, the company has pivoted to target a new market and double their production capacity; the pharmaceutical industry, and medical glass packaging. As a result, they are now perfectly positioned to profit from the packaging of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccines, like most injectable drugs, need to be packaged in sterile glass. Glass is essentially impermeable to corrupting gases like oxygen while even high-grade plastic lets some air inside.
Making these vials was a big business even before Covid-19 appeared in January. Last year, the global pharmaceutical industry purchased some 12 billion vials. 2 billion of them made by the Stevanato Group.
Producing enough pharmaceutical glass vials to deliver coronavirus vaccine around the world is critical for a successful global response.
Governments and pharmaceutical companies around the world are ordering hundreds of millions of dollars and pushing the glass primary packaging producers to ramp up their manufacturing capacity.
As the pandemic swept over Italy and majority of businesses closed their doors, the firm hired more than 580 new workers in the first six months of 2020.
The Stevanato Group kept whirring along, spitting out millions of glass vials. Hundreds of employees donned face masks to work around the clock in three daily shifts, seven days a week to manufacture millions of tiny sterile vials, each one smaller than a single fluid ounce, that one day will house doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Stevanato signed a deal with Norway’s Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), a Gates Foundation-backed group that is assisting with scaling nine different COVID-19 vaccine projects, to ensure the rollout globally can be achieved in the desired timeframe.