Technicians Making the COVID-19 Vaccination Happen - Part 2

With the outbreak of a global pandemic we have seen that to deal with extraordinary times we need extraordinary responses. The UK is participating in the largest vaccination programme ever seen, and technicians from across manufacturing, health science, logistics, healthcare and education are making it happen.

In our series to commemorate World Immunisation Week (24th – 30th April 2021) we’ve highlighted a few of the many technician roles key to the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Producing the vaccine

 

After the vaccine has been successfully researched, designed and trialled, it needs to be produced at scale so there is enough for all those who need it. The expertise of a variety of technicians is vital at this stage.

Frozen lab-produced master bank cells, which contain the genetic instructions on how the human body needs to fight the virus, are thawed. They are then transferred into larger and larger solutions of media to grow. When there’s enough to fill a 1000 litre bioreactor, the solution goes through a process of separation, purification and concentration.

Throughout this process, conditions need to be just right.

Instrumentation technicians like Michael, are key to making sure that the apparatus and machinery involved is operating correctly. This requires analysing and resolving issues expertly and as quickly as possible.

Here you’re not coming to work and doing the same thing every day, you have to think. That’s what I like most.

Michael, Instrumentation Technician at CPI

Elsewhere, process technicians like Joe, oversee the entire manufacturing process – executing, monitoring and controlling production to ensure it is at the right sterility, humidity and temperature to create viable batches of vaccine.

We need to be able to recognise if something isn’t working properly or needs changing.

Joe at CPI

Throughout the process you also have technicians tasked with quality assurance, ensuring that production complies with procedure, standards and regulation. That can be carried out by analytical technicians, like Dominika, who checks that the treatments to be received by patients are at the highest possible standard.

It’s really rewarding knowing that thanks to your work, patients receive safe treatments that will help to save lives in the long-run.

Dominika, University of Manchester

 

How can I become a technician?

There are many pathways to becoming a technician involved in biomanufacturing, process, or quality assurance.

If you’re coming up to 16 you could study A-levels, applied general qualifications, a T-level or do an apprenticeship.

You could then gain more of the skills needed in the workplace with a higher apprenticeship, higher level qualification or experience in the workplace. Check out the stories of technicians below for inspiration:

Can you tell me more about how vaccines are developed?

To learn more about how vaccines are developed, check out the article, Inside Oxford's coronavirus vaccine development by the Guardian. In addition, the video below by Nature magazine describes the process from start to finish:

 

#techniciansmakeithappen

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