Hanscom effort expected to aid Covid-19 vaccine distribution

  • Published
  • By K. Houston Waters
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Hanscom acquisition professionals are using their rapid contracting expertise to assist in the fight against Covid-19 and future pandemics. 

Earlier this year, a small team within the Special Programs Division of the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate, headquartered here, awarded a $138 million contract to ApiJect Systems America intended to create a high-speed domestic supply chain capable of manufacturing 45 million pre-filled doses per month beginning in January 2021, as vaccines become available.

“Our efforts essentially bought capacity improvement so the U.S. could scale up the ability to manufacture these injection kits at high volume and enormous speed,” said Shawn Walles, contracting officer, Contracting Branch. “Once the device and vaccine have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, this 45 million per month production capability will likely enable population-scale injections of vaccines and therapeutics for the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health crises.”

Acting in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, the team utilized Defense Production Act funding on the contract. From start to finish, the team was able to finalize the agreement in just ten days.

“I am immensely proud because this was a complicated job and needed to be executed quickly under tremendous time pressure,” said Maj. Randy Nemerson, injection technology program manager, Special Programs Division. “The ability to provide highly scalable, low-cost injections, in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, is a life-saving capability for our fellow Americans and for billions of people around the globe. The team has been incredible in getting the contract awarded so quickly.”

The ApiJect system is composed of a plastic injection container that is produced using blow-fill-seal technology, a manufacturing technique for creating an aseptic environment inside a sealed container.

Following FDA approval, ApiJect is expected to begin receiving shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical companies. Once received, the company expects to load the vaccine into the blow-fill-seal device to be packaged with a needle hub and connector, creating a field-assembled single-use prepackaged vaccine delivery system. ApiJect would then ship the devices from the manufacturing center to established distribution centers on the way to healthcare facilities and pharmacies around the country.

The contract allows 24 months for capacity improvements and 12 months for the production of needle hubs, enabling the U.S. government to provide increased lifesaving capacity improvements against future national health emergencies that require population-scale vaccine administration on an urgent basis. The establishment of this supply chain could also reduce U.S. dependence on foreign purchasing and reliance on older technologies with much longer production times.  

This C3I&N effort supports Operation Warp Speed, as well as Project Jumpstart, a public-private initiative dedicated to “jumpstart” the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine and domestic production of the vaccine and delivery systems.

Officials from the Digital Directorate, also headquartered here, have executed efforts to expand domestic manufacturing of COVID-19-related medical supplies. Click here for more details.