Italian Billionaires Behind Glass COVID-19 Vaccine Vials

COVID-19 vaccine vials, much like the vaccine itself, have to come from somewhere. As the pandemic has been spreading its terror for almost a year, the news of inoculations was a blessing. The researchers and the medical teams of the healthcare industry have worked tirelessly for producing the vaccine. However, it is necessary to acknowledge the other facilitators of the vaccination process as well. Even if the vaccine for a deadly disease that has the potential to cause a pandemic has been produced, it still requires accessories for its mass distribution. Things like vials, syringes, and an entire package is required before roll-out. Different private companies have taken up this job over the years in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry.

The Stevanato Group is one such private company. It is a family business shared by Sergio Stevanato and his two sons, Franco and Marco. Their success story from a small company to a vast business is impressive. They have an essential role to play in the facilitation of the vaccination process for COVID-19.

The Italian Billionaires Of The Stevanato Group

The Stevanato Group was a small family business established back in 1949. In the beginning, they were in Venice and in the business of manufacturing perfume bottles. However, in the 1970s, they upgraded to the food industry in making containers. Meanwhile, they were also in the trade of making glass bottles for wine.

Their sales were not that impressive, and the founder, Giovanni, realised that he had to upgrade and improvise and even change directions. Stevanato Group eventually found their key to success when they started working with the pharmaceutical industry. Today, they are one of the largest private companies producing and manufacturing glassware and plasticware for the medical industry.

The Current Status of these Italian Billionaires

The Stevanato group is currently in the trade for making glass vials, syringes and plastic ware for diagnostic purposes. Last year they produced about 2 billion vials, 4 billion plastic parts, and about 600 billion syringes. In 2019, the pharmaceutical industry brought about 12 billion glass vials for vaccination trials and the like; out of these 12 billion, the Stevanato group alone produced about 2 billion.

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This former CEO and chairman of the Stevanato Group, Sergio Stevanato, now owns about 16% of the business. Stevanto handed over the coveted positions of CEO and chairman to his son, Franco. His younger son, Marco, is the vice president of the company. Collectively they own a share of about 32% of the company.

The Stevanato group is also the largest producer of insulin pen cartridges. Another upper hand that this private group has is the machines it owns to have the entire process of making the best glassware, plastic ware, and syringes in the medical industry.

The Deal with CEPI

The CEPI or the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations chose the Stevanato Group to produce glass violas for the COVID-19 vaccine. The special deal was to supply about one hundred million Type 1 Borosilicate glass which would hold up to 2 million doses of the vaccine against coronavirus.

Experts speculate that the Stevanao billionaires from Italy are trying to lay low and not go for more publicity yet because it might be lucrative in their case. Usually, the patent for packaging a market good expires after a while, and you can still go on with the old packaging to avoid spending more money on patents. It could be the same in the Stevanato Group case, which currently has an estimated net worth of about $1.8 billion.

Each of the 100 million vials ordered by CEPI will have about 20 doses of the vaccine. The Stevanato Group, along with other such private companies, already anticipate that the demand for glass vials for the COVID-19 vaccine will increase exponentially. It might go from 1 billion vials to 2 billion and maybe even more. There are about 8 billion people globally, and to cross the herd immunity threshold that can slow down the spread of the COVID-19 considerably, at least 5.6 billion people will need to be vaccinated.

As important as the global fight against this highly contagious disease is, a vaccination procedure can not reach its completion if there is no mass distribution. Since the Stevanato group already has a good reputation for producing a considerable number of sterile glass containers and other wares for pharmaceutical purposes, the CEPI could entrust them with this enormous responsibility in the time of an emergency.

This group of Italian billionaires has already delivered their end of the deal, and there is hope again of a fast track solution to this rapidly spreading disease. Currently, two other groups, Gerresheimer and Schott, are catering to the pharmaceutical industry’s needs to fight the coronavirus.

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Sources – Forbes, CEPI, The Washington Post

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