Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research
Meeting discusses COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing bottlenecks that must be urgently tackled for C19 vaccine output
09 March 2021
Chatham House, in collaboration with COVAX, IFPMA, DVCMN, and BIO, convened a Global COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chain & Manufacturing Summit on 8th and 9th March. The unprecedented scaling up of vaccine manufacturing, from zero to billions of doses in record time, has led to shortages that are impacting the entire vaccine supply chain. Open dialogue among manufacturers, suppliers, international organizations and governments is urgently needed to address these shortages so that they do not interrupt vaccine manufacturing. The meeting aimed to kick start the dialogue to identify, understand, and discuss potential solutions for these supply chain challenges.
Held under the Chatham House Rule, the meeting provided the opportunity for frank, open and problem-solving discussions while respecting anti-trust rules.
A discussion document[1 see below] was prepared to help inform participants, giving an overview of the current landscape of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing and emerging supply chain challenges. Vaccine manufacturers, and suppliers of vaccine components, are part of a global supply chain that is scaling up from zero to billions of doses in record time and tripling previous annual vaccine output. As founding partners of COVAX, vaccine manufacturers are playing their part in achieving fair and equitable access to vaccines. COVID-19 is an exceptional crisis of global magnitude with several unforeseen and shifting challenges and complexities.
Vaccine manufacturing processes (upstream, downstream, fill-and-finish) are highly complex and involve cutting-edge science and technologies. Effective manufacturing capacity expansion needs to overcome major challenges, including but not limited to the need for highly specialised equipment, qualified and trained personnel, difficult and time-consuming technology transfers, and, not least, managing complex international supply chains frequently involving more than 100 components.
All stakeholders agreed there is a need to expand capacity and in a way that promotes equitable access and leaves no one behind. Other approaches were discussed including:
:: Free flow of goods and workforce;
:: Continue technology transfer and manufacturing partnerships between innovators and manufacturers to scale up and scale out COVID19 vaccine capacity;
:: Better demand forecasting and inventory management of raw materials and critical consumables;
:: Support from the highest political level is needed;
:: Value of regulatory harmonization and streamlining to accelerate manufacturing capacity and supply;
:: Better production, demand and supply, forecast and visibility;
:: Give consideration to the potential impacts of COVID-19 production on non-COVID products…
Towards Vaccinating The World :: Landscape of Current COVID-19 Supply Chain and Manufacturing Capacity, Potential Challenges, Initial Responses, and Possible “Solution Space” – a Discussion Document
Released March 9, 2021 :: 29 pages
Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer, CEPI
Melanie Saville, Director Vaccine R&D, CEPI
Matthew Downham, Sustainable Manufacturing Lead, CEPI
Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA
Laetitia Bigger, Vaccines Policy Director, IFPMA
Phyllis Arthur, Vice President, Infectious Diseases & Diagnostics Policy, BIO
Rajinder Suri, Chief Executive Officer, DCVMN
Sai D. Prasad, President, DCVMN
Rasmus Bech Hansen, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Airfinity
5. Overview of Potential Solutions for Discussion [p.21]
:: A broad range of potential solutions could be considered to mitigate acute supply challenges and enhance longer-term supply sustainability: o Three levers could be considered to directly scale input supply and manufacturing: (i) increasing efficiency of existing capacity; (ii) repurposing of existing capacity; (iii) adding new capacity.
:: Five enablers could be considered to support the scale up and enhance efficiency: (i) free flow of goods; (ii) regulatory; (iii) collaboration; (iv) financing; (v) visibility.
:: The solutions outlined under the scale-up levers and enablers aim to show the breadth of potential interventions and do not constitute recommendations. Potentially, a combination of solutions may need to be employed that carefully considers trade-offs and externalities.