Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
As we continue to face uncertain times, I wanted to share an update on how our global business is responding to the challenges of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Both segments of our business are working tirelessly in the fight against the Coronavirus. Our Pharma and Biotech segment is continuing to develop and manufacture a large number of life-saving treatments. These enable our customers to protect their most vulnerable patients, whose needs have never been greater. Meanwhile, our Specialty Ingredients segment is continuing to focus on delivering microbial control solutions. More than twenty of our microbial solutions have been shown to be effective against COVID-19 in tests by the US Environmental Protection Agency. These solutions are more critical than ever to maintaining the hygiene and safety of hospitals, homes, schools, and offices across the world.
Before I provide an update on the practical measures we have implemented to protect our business, I would like to pay tribute to our 15,500 employees around the world. Our office-based employees are now facing the personal and professional challenges of home-working, while our lab and manufacturing employees grapple with split shifts and new professional practices, such as social distancing. The resolve and dedication of our workforce has only risen in response to these challenges. I am immensely proud of their courage, as our global business continues to galvanise in the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus.
The senior management at Group level has worked to define five key priorities for the business in response to the spread of the virus:
- Maintain and protect the health and safety of all employees
- Ensure business continuity (e.g. using technology to work and replace meetings)
- Intensive supply chain monitoring (currently monitoring occurs on a daily basis)
- Maintain the strong balance sheet and focus on cash management
- Optimise our global footprint as a strength to balance risks
I am also proud of the way in which the leaders in our business functions have worked to anticipate the spread of the disease, and deliver an intelligent and pragmatic response. In January, a dedicated Coronavirus Taskforce was formed by our most senior leaders from Legal, Corporate Development, EHS (Environmental Health and Safety), HR (Human Resources), and Communications. The Taskforce has worked tirelessly to keep abreast of the changing situation and update our global policies to protect both employee safety and business continuity. These are the two areas of greatest potential impact for our business, and I would like to take this opportunity to focus on each in turn.
As early as January, we had already begun to impose limitations – then a full ban – on all international business travel in response to the spread of the Coronavirus. More recently, we have advised that all office-based employees should commence home-working, and we have worked to deliver additional IT measures to ensure that our systems can support the increase in agile working practices. We have also provided guidance to help employees make optimal use of our remote working technologies and maintain strong levels of cybersecurity.
As a manufacturing company, we understand that our employees based in labs and factories will need to continue to attend work to maintain business continuity. In these environments, we are making specific provisions for each site, so that operations can continue while affording the best possible levels of safety to all employees. Such measures include split shifts alongside strict hygiene and social distancing practices.
Although many companies are facing increasing restrictions, our work to deliver medical treatments and microbial control solutions has already proved critical in the fight against the Coronavirus. As such, our work has been categorised as “essential” and our license to operate currently remains intact in all markets.
While we are able to control our own operations, we are dependent on suppliers for materials and transport companies to deliver them. In response, we are working diligently across our supply chain to minimise any potential disruptions. Currently, we have not experienced any major disruption in our supply chain and we are already rerouting shipments and working with alternative suppliers where needed.
Nonetheless, we are fully aware that this is an unprecedented situation and – while we continue to do all we can to maintain business continuity – this may not be possible in all areas of our business. If customers have any queries or concerns, they should contact the relevant Business Unit for an update on their specific situation. We are experiencing a high level of customer queries, so I ask customers to be patient while we make investigations to ensure that we can provide detailed and accurate responses.
In closing, I wish to share my thanks with all our stakeholders for their cooperation, patience, and perseverance. In these difficult times, there is inspiration to be taken in watching the world come together and galvanise in the fight against this new threat to our safety. At Lonza, we remain resolved to continue to play our part in this fight, as we work together to advance human health.
With warm regards
Albert M. Baehny