COVID-19 vaccine production, to December 31st 2021

Since production began in November 2020 of COVID-19 vaccines, data assembled by our partners Airfinity show that the world’s manufacturers had by the end of 2021 made more than 10.9 billion doses. This is a lot more than was expected in the early months of 2021 when manufacturing hiccups and supply shortages made the struggle look very steeply uphill. In the month of December a big jump in output in Pfizer’s European Union factories, a sharp revival in output by the two Chinese giants, Sinopharm and Sinovac, and healthy output growth in the United States and Switzerland enabled more than 1.5 billion doses to be made, a more than 50% rise on November’s figure.

Pfizer/BioNTech, the US-German combine using mRNA technology, jumped ahead to become the leading vaccine producer in December. Both the two Chinese firms produced more than 300 million doses of their inactivated-virus jabs as demand revived in China for booster shots, as that country fought to maintain its closed-border, zero-COVID policy. India's Bharat is emerging as the world's seventh major COVID vaccines producer, but America's Novavax has been the big disappointment of 2021 thanks to delays obtaining regulatory approvals.

Looking at 2021 as a whole there remains a huge gap between the top four vaccine firms, which have each made well over 2 billion doses, and the smaller firms such as Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Russia's Gamaleya/Sputnik and Bharat. While those top four look set to remain dominant in 2022, the Chinese firms look set to face stiffer competition in poor countries as higher-efficacy jabs have become cheaper and more readily available, and more mid-sized firms, including Novavax, will likely emerge.

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

We now publish a weekly newsletter to inform friends and supporters of the Global Commission’s progress and to provide updates when new content is published. Please sign up here:

Previous Leading Indicators