vaccine production

COVID-19 vaccine production, to August 31st, 2021

Monthly output of approved COVID-19 vaccines regained the June level of over 1.2 billion doses, a pace which if maintained would mean a further 5 billion doses would be produced by the end of 2021. If this is met or perhaps slightly bettered, total output of approved COVID-19 vaccines by year end would amount to somewhere between 10.8 billion and 11.5 billion doses, sufficient to give a full two-dose immunisation to about 5.5 billion people, about 70% of the world’s population — if rich-country booster shots do not divert a significant quantity during that period. Chinese firms’ output rebounded, bringing their share of global production back to almost 50%. A slowdown in output by Pfizer/BioNTech in August contributed to a 30% fall in EU monthly production but monthly output in the US nearly doubled, from 80 million doses in July to 154 million in August.

China's Sinovac has cemented its position as the world's leading COVID-19 vaccine producer, with monthly output of 366 million doses, nearly 29% of the global total. Moderna's output at last expanded strongly in both the United States and in Switzerland, closing the gap between it and the two leading western producers, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca. AZ's Indian licensee, the Serum Institute, produced 130 million of its doses during August, a strong performance that bodes well for the completion of India's vaccination programme but still means that the COVAX global vaccines initiative faces a huge shortfall in supplies.

With just four months to go, pharmaceutical companies' declared targets for total 2021 production look increasingly far-fetched. Of the majors, Sinovac is the only one likely to meet or even beat its target (2 billion doses, of which it has already made 1.56 billion), although Pfizer/BioNTech (3 billion doses, of which it has already made 1.2 billion) will come close. AstraZeneca is less than one-third of the way to its 3.2 billion dose target and so will fall at least one billion short. Moderna's rising output gives it a greater chance of hitting its one billion dose target, although it would have to average 146 million a month to get there, up from 112.7 million in August.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

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