COVID-19 vaccine production, to July 31st, 2021
Monthly output of approved COVID-19 vaccines worldwide slipped back in July to less than 1.12 billion doses, from over 1.22 billion in June, thanks to a slowdown in production in the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine producer, China. In June, Chinese firms made 60% of doses worldwide, while in July their share slipped to 48%. Meanwhile output in the European Union rose by 27% to 271.6 million doses while that in the third largest producer, India, climbed by 13% to 136.1 million. With production in the United States now back up to 80.7 million in July, those four countries/regions make up more than 90% of global output.
China's Sinovac is clearly the world's largest COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, although Pfizer/BioNTech of the US and Germany is closing the monthly gap. Sinovac's domestic rival, Sinopharm, has announced plans to expand its capacity to make 5 billion doses per year. These two Chinese firms are going to be considerable competitors to the big three western firms, Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna, especially in low and middle-income countries, in the rest of 2021 and throughout 2022. AstraZeneca remains the company with the most diverse production sources but still lacks sufficient capacity to supply the global COVAX programme for poor countries with what it needs -- and has been promised.
If July's monthly output of 1.12 billion doses were maintained over the next five months, total production of approved COVID-19 vaccines since output began in late 2020 would amount to about 10.4 billion doses. Companies' declared output targets for the end of 2021 are about 60% higher than that at 16.3 billion which suggests either that some dramatic production expansions are envisaged or that the declared targets are unrealistic. Nevertheless, if by end 2021 say 11 billion-12 billion doses have been produced, that would be enough to inoculate 5.5 billion-6 billion out of the world's 7.9 billion population. The bigger challenges are financing vaccination programmes for poorer countries, notably in Africa, and organising them.
Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash
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