vaccine production

COVID-19 vaccine production, to May 31 2021

Our second monthly update on worldwide production of approved COVID-19 vaccines shows a near doubling in monthly output, from about 420 million doses in April (to April 26th) to 822 million in May. The biggest rise in production was in China, from more than 164 million doses in April to 454 million in May, a near trebling, which helps to explain how China is now administering more than 20 million doses daily in its domestic vaccination programme. India, by contrast, saw a disappointing drop in its monthly output from more than 76 million in April to just 62.6 million doses in May, which explains that country’s slower domestic vaccination rollout and the ban on exports which has deprived the COVAX initiative of its largest intended source of supplies. The European Union (140 million compared with 69 million) and United States (105 million from 71 million) both saw substantial increases, however.

Expanded output in its factories in the EU leave Pfizer/BioNTech the world's leading COVID-19 vaccine producer, although Sinovac of China may well soon surpass it. Contributions from the Sputnik V vaccine made by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia, from Johnson & Johnson and its single-dose jab made in the US and Europe, and Bharat of India remain moderate. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has the most diversified supply chain, which have helped it cope with shortfalls from its partner in India, the Serum Institute.

Vaccine producers remain bullish about their output in 2021, with targets for already-approved vaccines (green) a notch higher now (15.2 billion doses) than at end April (14.6 billion), largely thanks to Pfizer/BioNTech raising its published expectations from 2.5 billion doses to 3 billion. These targets mean that in the remaining seven months global output would have to be an average of 1.87 billion per month, representing more than a further doubling from May's 822 million. June's result will provide a good guide to whether these targets can be reached, but on the basis of May's increases some optimism may be in order.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

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