Throughout 2021, we maintained an active role in controlling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We remained focused on maintaining business continuity and protecting our employee community, while working on several COVID-19 projects with our customers.
As the pandemic continued to impact our business and the communities in which we operate, Lonza’s Global COVID-19 Taskforce and the associated working groups remained integral to our pandemic response. Comprising of representatives from a wide range of functions across the business, the Global Taskforce and working groups focused on addressing our most pressing challenges.
A priority of the Global Taskforce was to ensure that our employee community continued to be alert to the ongoing threat of the pandemic. We encouraged our employee community to be vaccinated to protect both the health of individual employees and broader society. The Global Taskforce endeavored to balance the need for a global approach with the local requirements of sites based in different locations with varying levels of infection or vaccination rates. Where possible, back-to-office plans were introduced to offer an opportunity to those employees who wished to return to the office. Remote working remained possible on a broad basis across Lonza for applicable employees.
Thanks to the collective efforts of our employee community, we continued to manage business continuity globally while fulfilling our responsibilities to our customers.
Moving into the second year of the pandemic, we were able to benefit from the actions we took in 2020. This included our IT measures, which ensured our systems supported the increase in remote working and trainings to help employees make optimal use of our remote working technologies.
In some cases, our teams were able to turn the challenge of the pandemic into an opportunity to innovate and bring long-lasting benefits to the organization. Lonza’s Digital Transformation team started building a virtual reality (VR) training concept to remotely train large numbers of employees in critical operations across different sites on new manufacturing methods. This VR environment allowed users to gain digital experience performing critical operations such as cleanroom behavior and working in the biosafety cabinet.
Looking to the future, VR training platforms also provide tangible benefits beyond the pandemic. Users can be trained anywhere, at any time and often in a manner that does not interrupt commercial production and have also made remote support possible.
Group General Counsel
In 2021, Lonza’s Global COVID-19 Taskforce - comprised of leaders across key business functions – continued to manage the evolution of the pandemic. Remaining true to our key principle of “no panic – no complacency”, we swiftly implemented measures based on reliable internal and external data to protect the health and safety of our employees while ensuring business continuity.
Building on the experience gained in 2020, we captured opportunities to replicate best practices and share lessons learned. Knowing there is no one-size-fits-all response to the pandemic, we followed an agile global approach by pursuing local strategies to deliver the best response for each unique situation.
As we move into a third year of working and living through the pandemic, the Global Taskforce will continue to lead through empowerment, teamwork and trust. By providing guidance from a central source, we empower our sites with a framework to implement measures that are tailored to their location and employee communities. Finally, by recognizing how far we have come, we have tremendous trust and confidence that our global colleague community will continue to work collectively to achieve the common goal of managing our business and people through COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, we have remained focused on fulfilling our purpose of enabling a healthier world. In addition to our divisional customer projects, we continued to develop and manufacture drug substance for COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. Furthermore, we welcomed 33 regulatory inspections as well as an increasing number of customer audits (including both onsite and remote audits).
We expanded our collaboration with Moderna to produce drug substance for its Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine. In May 2021 we announced an agreement to double production capacity at our site in Visp (CH) to six production lines, while in June we announced that a new drug substance production line will be installed at our site in Geleen (NL).
Beyond our collaboration with Moderna, we have been working on additional COVID-19 customer projects. Few examples include: