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It’s all hands on deck at the Flanders distribution center of American medical equipment manufacturer Becton Dickinson (BD) in Temse. From blood collection vials and COVID-19 tests to vaccine syringes, healthcare providers all over the globe count on BD to supply their hospitals, laboratories and pharmaceutical companies with much-needed equipment. “Since COVID-19, 30 million syringes go out the door here every week,” says Alexander Alonso, general manager of BD Benelux.

Managing global demand

BD's distribution center in Temse (Flanders) knows how to weather a storm. In normal times, the company produces 7 billion syringes and needles per year at its production sites worldwide – due to COVID-19 vaccinations this number has increased by 1 billion. Even without taking into account the equipment needed for vaccinations, an average of 20 million needles and syringes are shipped from the distribution center in Temse every week. But since November 2020, this number has increased by half. Every day about 50 trucks arrive and leave, carrying medical equipment from production sites all over the world. Healthcare and pharmaceutical players in the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia ... everyone wants a piece of the BD pie.

The demand is entirely due to the global campaigns to administer COVID-19 vaccines. We have to produce and distribute those under time pressure, but for now we are managing.

Alexander Alonso
general manager of BD Benelux

Balancing out the impact of the crisis

With a market share of around 70%, BD is the world's largest manufacturer of needles and syringes. So, when COVID-19 vaccination campaigns were set in motion, BD immediately found itself on the medical frontlines as well. In addition, the company recorded increased demand for PCR tests for diagnosis and rapid antigen tests in recent months.

However, the COVID-19 health crisis also took its toll on the business. For example, in the first few months of 2020, demand for surgical equipment plummeted, Alexander Alonso recalls:

some goods, we only reached 20% of normal capacity at one point. But thanks to our versatile product range, we were able to restore the balance.

Alexander Alonso
general manager of BD Benelux

Big in Flanders and beyond

New Jersey-based Becton Dickinson is an American medtech company founded in 1897 by Maxwell Becton and Fairleigh Dickinson. The company produces and distributes huge volumes of medical equipment. In 2020, global sales reached EUR 14 billion. BD has 70,000 employees worldwide and operates in 200 countries, including a presence in Flanders for over 60 years. Part of Flanders’ unique life sciences ecosystem, the 100,000 m² European distribution center in Temse currently employs some 340 people.

Flanders went all out

In recent months, Flanders proved to be an innovation and logistics stronghold in the fight against COVID-19. In July 2020, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica started part of its vaccine trials in Flanders. American Pharmaceutical company Pfizer selected its site in Puurs (Flanders) as one of the main centers of activity for the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, Brussels Airport, the region’s largest international airport, plays a key part in distributing the vaccines.

All of these efforts have resulted in heartwarming and inspiring stories that we like to share with you. Keep reading and uncover how Flanders:

Reported by
newspaper De Tijd

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