While the pandemic has dented the purses of many in the consumer durables sector, there are some companies that are also witnessing an uptick following the onslaught of the virus.
One of them is home grown firm, Gurgaon-based, Pluss Technologies, that designs temperature-controlled boxes for vaccine transportation. It is expecting to double its business in the next couple of months, driven primarily by the one single act that concerns humanity at large - transportation of Covid-19 vaccines.
Pluss Technologies has tied up with Dr Reddy's and is expecting to start selling around 10,000 boxes by the next couple of months.
The company is run by Samit Jain, a technology entrepreneur and engineer from BITs Pilani, who told Moneycontrol: "Our work started pre-Covid, but Covid has got us into the limelight because everybody is talking about temperature control and cold chains.”
Dr Reddy's has received approval from the Drugs Control General of India to conduct Phase 3 clinical trial for the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. In September 2020, the drug major had partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct the clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine and for its distribution rights in India.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Pluss Technologies makes phase change material, which enables medicines to be stored and transported at precise temperature ranges that, significantly, other solutions like ice or dry ice are unable to provide.
It has come up with boxed solutions for key temperature ranges such as minus 2 to minus 8 degree Celsius, minus 20 to minus 30 degree Celsius, going up to as low as minus 30 to minus 50-degree ranges.
In addition, the company has also developed a minus 70-degree phase change material, that can be used for the Pfizer vaccine.
The company has recently won a European Patent for its vaccine box and has tied up with airlines such as SpiceJet, which would use its technology for transporting the vaccines. Pluss has also linked up with a leading logistics company for carrying, unarguably, the most precious substance on planet today."Different vaccines need different temperatures. When you look at dry ice it is minus 70 degrees while ice pack is zero. You cannot use a zero-degree material and a minus 70-degree material to maintain temperatures, which are not close to minus 70 or zero. So, we have developed a special substance called phase change material," explained Jain. With his ability to innovate, he sure is on a good wicket.