The global COVID-19 vaccination campaign began nine months ago, and 58% of the world’s population has yet to receive at least one dose.
big picture: Raw material shortages, complicated and costly manufacturing, and the choice of vaccine makers have made it clear that the US and its pharmaceutical companies will not get the poor, unconnected parts of the world out of the pandemic – but China might.
state of play: Richer countries have more vaccines than citizens who want them, while poorer countries are facing bleak deadlines for administering the first dose.
- The US and other Western countries could vaccinate teens and provide booster shots to everyone, and still have 1.2 billion additional doses available to be shipped elsewhere this year, according to one report good From analytics firm Airfinity.
- Meanwhile, the global COVAX consortium is now looking forward to receiving 25% lower dosage More than expected due to production problems caused by the vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax, as well as export restrictions from a major supplier in India.
Vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech Both have proven to be life saving and reliably produced, but companies mostly choose to sell to high-income countries where they make the most money.
- Moderna hopes to make 1 billion doses by the end of 2021, but hardly any dose Visiting locations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
- Pfizer can deliver more 3 billion doses By the end of 2021, with 1 billion moving to low- and middle-income countries, the company told Nerdshala. This means that the Pfizer shot will vaccinate up to 500 million people in developing countries.
- Neither company made the executives available for interviews to explain why they made those decisions.
- Moderna has rebranded the Nerdshala to its COVAX . directed to Press release. Pfizer said Statement Its goal is to “provide fair and equitable access to the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 Vaccine to everyone, everywhere.”
reality check: Increasing vaccine production was slow at first.
- mRNA vaccines to be made Complex, with several steps which required materials like tiny plastic tubes, lipids and molecules called “caps” that were in limited supply And there were very few sellers.
- “There just weren’t enough raw materials. No one went to the raw material manufacturers and said, ‘You need to increase your production at risk,'” said Drew Weisman, an mRNA vaccine specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Raw materials are less of an issue now, Weisman said. The bigger issue is more certified manufacturing plants. But it’s expensive, and Moderna and Pfizer put almost no money into facilities outside Europe or North America, where they’re needed most.
yes but: “It’s all technically possible” to step up production, said Zain Rizvi, a pharmaceutical expert at Public Citizen, who co-authored report good On increasing the supply of vaccines.
- Rizvi explains how BioNTech bought and renovated Last year a pharmaceutical plant in Germany re-trained employees, and then began production of mRNA vaccines – all within six months.
- This can be done elsewhere. For example, Weisman has helped set up a plant Thailand for a different mRNA vaccine candidate.
Between the lines: The US has some level of ownership over Moderna’s taxpayer-funded vaccine, but the government hasn’t really helped other countries build it, though some clearly want help.
- “We have asked Washington to transfer technology for vaccine production, but US officials said this is something that should be decided by the private sector,” a South Korean official said. The Financial Times.
what to watch: China has increased its exports sinoformhandjob sinovac and CanSino vaccines, which can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, leading some to believe China will be the global savior.
- Experts are also banking on two researchers-led vaccine candidates – Corbevax and NDV-HXP-S – which are much cheaper and more easily mass-produced than mRNA vaccines.
Bottom-line: “If we’re going to get out of the pandemic, that’s all we need” [vaccine] options,” said Susan Carpenter, an immunology specialist at the University of California Santa Cruz.