Luxembourg firm, B Medical system, that will be building portable and non-portable COVID-19 vaccine refrigerators for the Indian government will set up a plant in India, which will be up and running by mid-march.
This is the direct outcome of the virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel. Prime Minister Bettel had made the offer to PM Modi, who accepted the proposal and things are moving at a fast pace on the project. Subsequently, the Indian Embassy in Brussels approached the company to ascertain the nature of their interest. The company indicated a strong interest in implementing a Make in India Project in two phases.
The team of the company,–CEO Luc Provost and Deputy CEO Jesal Doshi are in India for week-long talks and visits to –Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad. The manufacturing plant will be set up in Gujarat and all formalities are expected to be finalized this week.
In Delhi speaking to WION, CEO Luc said, the company will be involved in the “transfer of technology from Luxembourg to India to produce quality products”, while Deputy CEO Jesal pointed out, India can “replicate the success for the transportation of the vaccines”.
The portable COVID-19 vaccine refrigerator they will be manufacturing can carry different vaccines requiring different temperatures–from Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at -70 or Moderna COVID vaccine at -20. Their solar-powered units are capable of running for a month with one-day exposure to the Sun.
Here is the detailed interview with CEO Luc Provost, and Deputy CEO Jesal Doshi
Sidhant Sibal: With what mandate are you in India vis-a-vis the setting up of the plant?
Luc Provost: We are here to set up manufacturing units in India and transfer technology from Luxembourg to India to produce quality products in the vaccination project
Sidhant Sibal: You will visit many cities if you can give detail of it?
Jesal Doshi: It was only in November that 2 Prime Ministers met, and all of us here are impressed and the vision that PM Modi has shown and the speed at which govt has acted to do a follow up on it. In less than 2 weeks, after that summit we are here physically in Delhi in COVID-19 times, that is in itself an incredible achievement. We have a week full of meetings, we will be in Delhi, we will be in Hyderabad, we will be in Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, meeting various stakeholders as well as vaccine manufacturers.
Sidhant Sibal: What is the differentiating factor between your products and products available?
Luc Provost: Actually, B Medical has been in this business for 4 decades and has been leading the market, and we helped build up high-quality products, so you will find existing products around the world which satisfy similar needs, but not with the same security as B Medical can offer and same quality. Just as reference points, we have products with failure rate below 0.3% and we offer 10 years warranty on our products because they are so robust and well designed and we’ll produce in Luxembourg and we will live to bring the product to India.
Sidhant Sibal: How will your company setting up a plant can help the Indian govt’s Atmanirbhar Bharat project?
Jesal Doshi: India even today manufactures 60% of the world’s vaccine. And honestly, I don’t find any reason why they can’t replicate the success for the transportation of the vaccines, which is sometimes even more critical than even the vaccine itself. Because if you transport it incorrectly, you lose the potency of the vaccine. So, I think, huge potential in India as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat to create many jobs in the sector and I am very very excited being Indian myself, as part of this.
Sidhant Sibal: Can you give details of the portable refrigerator equipment that will be produced in India?
Luc Provost: the beauty of our equipment is that you can use the same equipment, for multiple usages. The transport container you are taking about, can transport Pfizer vaccine at -70 degree, Moderna vaccine at -20 degree, in perfectly safe conditions, and also the standard vaccine at +4 degree for a week. But we don’t manufacture portable solutions, we manufacture stationary solutions, therefore vaccine refrigerators. We have products that can store refrigerated and a frozen vaccine. It gives flexibility to governments in the immunization programme, and is a huge risk reducer, to buy the right product.
Sidhant Sibal: When will things move on ground so that we can have the actual project working?
Jesal Doshi: From our perspective, we have already set-in place several steps. For example, the senior team that will lead our operations have been identified and recruited. We have already, placed order for equipment, in terms of assembly line that will be set up. We have done lot of things already, and I believe that we will have plant operational by March next year which is an extremely tight timeline.