Large pharmaceutical companies failed to fulfill their commitment to the European Union to produce and ensure the distribution of vaccines against COVID-19. And only three countries (the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom) have a large part of their population vaccinated.
However, despite such data and the fact that the arrival of vaccines could be compromised, especially if AstraZeneca maintains the age restriction and Janssen may follow in its footsteps, vaccine production will star in such significant growth that we can be optimistic about to achieve group immunity by the end of summer.
Pfizer cuts your time in half
So far, Pfizer and BioNTech have supplied more than 200 million doses and, the contracts that the companies have signed oblige them to deliver 1,400 million doses in 2021.
However, the latest Pfizer forecasts are to be able to produce up to 2.5 billion doses of your vaccine through 2021, which is very good news for countries like Spain, where the vaccination strategy has not finally been altered and Health has decided not to space the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna.
For that reason, a third contract for 1.8 billion doses for 2022-2023 is now being negotiated with Pfizer. In addition, Pfizer anticipates the delivery of 50 million planned for the fourth quarter, but which will now arrive during the second quarter and that will be distributed equitably among the member states based on their population.
To achieve this goal, the company is working on improving its production processes. So much so that it has already managed to reduce its manufacturing times by almost half, from 110 days to 60. Among other factors, the German biotechnology company points out that the increase in its forecast is due to the optimization of production processes, regulatory approval for vials of six doses instead of five as originally planned and expansion of the manufacturing and supplier network.
This new data comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light to the company’s new plant in Marburg (Germany), where both the active substance and the finished doses will be produced. In addition to the new manufacturing plants, the EMA has also issued a positive opinion to allow the transport and storage of Pfizer vaccine vials at temperatures between -25 and -15 ° C (the temperature of standard pharmaceutical freezers).
As if that were not enough, the company continues to work to find potential partners with the aim of further increasing production capacity. Since reforming its plant facilities in Puurs (Belgium) to increase production, Pfizer has shown great consistency in the delivery of doses, so we can be optimistic with its forecasts.
With everything, do not forget that manufacturing more vaccines using more manufacturing centers is not as simple as it seems. As science journalist Anthony King explains in an analysis published in ‘Chemistry World’, there are certainly few experienced producers who can contribute significantly to the large-scale manufacture of messenger RNA vaccines, as the production of these vaccines depends on others. centers that provide ‘raw materials’ such as lipids, enzymes and genetic material, as well as advanced technological platforms capable of producing messenger RNA vaccines.
Other vaccines that are and that will come
Although the European Union will not renew contracts with AstraZeneca and Janssen, we must take into account the arrival of new doses of AstraZeneca, which will add more than a million, so these days the second dose begins to be inoculated in people who received the first when this vaccine began to be administered in Spain in mid-February, since it has a pattern of between 10 and 12 weeks between the first dose and the booster dose.
Janssen is already administered in several autonomies, after receiving an initial batch of 300,000 doses. The next two months it will increase its shipments considerably, reaching 5.5 million doses in total before the end of June (1.3 million doses in May and 3.9 million in June). The great advantage of this vaccine is that it is a single dose.
After the EMA has endorsed the designed vaccine that although there are “possible links” between the injection of doses of the serum and the cases of thrombosis, these are “very exceptional”, its inoculation is an oxygen balloon for this trimester.
To all this is added that in the last month, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved new manufacturing sites for Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.
In addition, it must be taken into account that in this second quarter of the year the arrival of 3.5 million doses of Moderna is expected, and that there are two other vaccines about to be approved by the EMA: Curevac and Novavax. Russia’s Sputnik V is also in the process of being evaluated by the community regulator.
The month of April, therefore, is key for the launch of vaccination against COVID-19 in Spain, and, according to the forecasts of the Ministry of Health, the arrival of doses is going to triple during the second quarter of the year, until June . Group immunity, given this data, seems to be more than viable towards the end of the summer.