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Water Banks And Their Pivotal Role In The Fight Against Covid 19

Abeco Tanks – the world’s first bank for the business of water – are no strangers to the reality that water is both an essential life-saving force and a commodity that needs to be saved for times of scarcity. But did you know that water and its ability to be stored in large water banks is already saving millions of African lives? 

This is because water is essential to the manufacturing process of the Covid 19 vaccine. In collaboration with Zutari and Hidro-Tech, Abeco helped install two immense tanks on the site of the Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing plant. One tank is specifically designed for a treated water tank holding an impressive 317 000 litres and the other is designed for a filtered water tank holding 108 000 litres. 

After a pivotal deal with Johnson and Johnson was announced in November of 2021, Aspen Pharmacare – Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer – was granted the rights to make up 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2022. With plans to increase that to more than 700 million by January 2023 2. However, there has been prolonged drought and water shortage in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape where the Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing plants are based. 

Mannie Ramos Jnr, COO at Abeco Tanks comments, “The process of manufacturing the vaccine is complex, to say the least. From growing the cells to preparing the vials and cooling the machinery that mass-produces and stores the product, almost every step of the 60-day timeline relies on the water in some way.”

Sterile water, for instance, is what scientists use to dilute vaccines and many of the essential stabilisers, such as gelatine 3, in vaccines also need water. So, it is no wonder that biopharmaceutical manufacturing plants need water purification systems that are reliable – in Africa in particular. 

Together with Zutari as the consultant on the project and Hidro-Tech as the contractor, Abeco set about installing two internally coated pressed steel tanks. One tank is for a treated water tank and the other for filtered water.  The tanks themselves are built to last using an internal bracing of angle iron welded to base plates, all sealants and rubber components are non-toxic and non-tainting to ensure the purity of the water and all steel components are hot-dip galvanised to never rust and use the latest in tank corrosion protection. Once the water has been collected it then goes through one of two processes. 

Filtered water is essential and is processed through reverse osmosis to filter out all impurities. Treated water on the other hand has been chemically altered to be the correct balance and ph. The tanks are only one part of the larger water treatment process. They store, filter and treat the water before they use the end water product in the manufacturing plant. 

If there is one thing the pandemic and all its social isolation has shown us, it is that there is a strong correlation between disease, dense population and urban sprawl.  An increase in common easily treatable diseases in urban areas is something Aspen needs to manufacture the medication for. The installation of the tanks is a bold statement to the rest of the world that if we are to keep our citizens healthy and be able to supply the rest of the African continent with life-saving medication, investing in sustainable water solutions is simply non-negotiable. 

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