11 billion COVID-19 vaccines produced in 2021 has resulted in the biggest immunization campaign in human history and 2022 will require more and better vaccine redistribution and innovation
Joint statement by IFPMA, DCVMN, BIO
Published on: 16 December 2021
A year since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered, vaccine makers including biotechnology firms, developing and developed country manufacturers say voluntary collaboration to share innovation has been a key enabler for manufacturing output to reach 11,2 billion doses in 2021.
The historic manufacturing scale up is overshadowed by a shared concern that COVID-19 vaccines are not reaching all who need them. While the current output from vaccine manufacturers is theoretically enough to vaccinate everyone, urgent, concrete measures are needed to support the hoped-for surge in COVID-19 vaccine uptake in countries with currently low vaccination rates.
In 2021, vaccine manufacturers demonstrated how they are uniquely positioned to rapidly innovate and manufacture effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines. Together with the broader scientific community, public health, and regulatory bodies around the world, industry will again bring this experience and expertise to bear on new variants such as Omicron.
…The 2021 supply of COVID-19 vaccines resulted in half of the world’s population being vaccinated within a year. Independent analysis by Airfinity has shown that, by the end of March 2022, G7 and EU countries are projected to have 1,4 billion surplus vaccines, even when administering boosters.
Dose-sharing is gaining momentum to reach those who have not yet been vaccinated, and COVAX is ramping up fast to ensure doses are distributed equitably around the world. Today, more than 700 million doses have been shipped by COVAX to 144 countries; and nearly 1 billion doses ordered.
Rapid and efficient delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, inclusive of dose-sharing, requires effective and flexible coordination and planning. Attention is urgently needed to focus on concrete measures in recipient countries to support COVID-19 vaccine deployment and uptake:
Political prioritization, funding, infrastructure and human resources must be sufficient to deliver vaccines safely, including upscaling cold chain capabilities from airfields to the last mile and increasing health workforce numbers to deliver the vaccines even in areas that are hard to reach, and without compromising routine immunization.
Extension of vaccine shelf life, with the increase in dose-sharing and distribution of vaccines, coupled with the challenges related to country absorption, innovation and regulatory oversight is needed so that shelf life is extended, in line with ongoing studies looking at the stability of vaccines, to ensure vaccines are not wasted.
Regulatory approval even before doses reach countries, requires the World Health Organization (WHO) and national regulatory authorities to work together to ensure that the vaccines are approved at national level, so that doses can be deployed immediately.
Addressing vaccine hesitancy requires collective focus as there continue to be pockets of people that, after 18 months of safety data and over 8 billion doses administered around the planet, remain hesitant towards COVID-19 vaccines.
This past year has demonstrated industry’s ability to be agile and respond to new challenges but has also underlined the importance of pursuing innovation. While some companies have failed in their endeavours, there is still a strong and thriving pipeline of innovation for adapted and new vaccines. The current intellectual property framework that supports the innovation eco-system will enable the development of new generations of vaccines that provide longer lasting and stronger protection, and are easier to transport, store, and administer, as well as new treatments to respond to current and new variants.