After a slow start, Pfizer Inc., its partner BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. increased their production by gaining experience, increasing production lines and taking other measures like manufacturing certain raw materials by them. themselves.
Pfizer has discovered how to stretch the meager supply of special filters needed in the vaccine production process by recycling them. Moderna has shortened the time it takes to inspect and package the newly manufactured vials of its vaccine.
The companies – along with Johnson & Johnson, which recently launched a Covid-19 vaccine – are also teaming up with other companies to further increase production.
In addition, the U.S. government has helped vaccine manufacturers access supplies under the Defense Production Act, suppliers and government officials say. The Biden administration said this month it used the law to provide $ 105 million in funding to help Merck & Co. manufacture doses of J & J’s Covid-19 vaccine and speed up materials used in its production.
The improvements and the addition of J&J firing promise to increase supplies in the United States as health officials step up efforts to vaccinate enough people to lift restrictions and reopen schools, businesses and other facilities.
US monthly production of the three licensed vaccines is expected to reach 132 million doses in March, nearly triple the 48 million in February, according to analysts at Evercore ISI.
“We should really expect over the next month or so to see a very substantial increase in supply” in the United States, said Eric Toner, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The first material supply bottlenecks “have been fixed”.
The global supply of Covid-19 vaccines is also increasing, although access to supplies and the pace of vaccinations vary widely from country to country. Companies like AstraZeneca PLC and the Serum Institute of India expect to have produced billions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this year.
Vaccines are essential, health experts say, to protect people from severe cases of Covid-19 and to overcome the pandemic and all of its restrictions.
In December, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were authorized in the United States. However, initial supplies were limited and the deployment began hesitantly. States have limited doses to certain groups, such as the elderly, healthcare workers, and people with high-risk health conditions.
However, production and administration of the plans has resumed in recent weeks. Today, some 2.5 million people in the United States are vaccinated daily on average, up from around 500,000 in early January, although many who want a vaccine still cannot get it.
The increase in production is expected to be enough to fully immunize 76 million people in the United States in March, 75 million more in April and 89 million more in May, according to estimates by analysts at Evercore ISI. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
By midsummer, 75% of Americans aged 12 and over should be vaccinated, according to Morgan Stanley. Vaccines are currently not licensed for people under the age of 16, but companies could have results this spring for studies of vaccines in adolescents 12 and older, which, if positive, could lead to vaccinations for this age group. Companies are also starting to test vaccines in children under 12, but the results of those studies are not expected until late this year.
With production ramping up, President Biden said on March 11 that he wanted states to expand eligibility to all adults by May 1 and that the United States should have a supply. sufficient for all adults by the end of May.
Moderna, from Cambridge, Mass., Took about three months to manufacture the first 20 million doses of his vaccine last year, but now he’s making around 40 million a month for the United States, Juan said. Andres, responsible for technical operations and quality. in an interview.
He said the company would likely hit a peak production of 50 million per month by the summer.
Moderna laid the foundation for its production capacity last year by adding floor space and new equipment at its plant in Norwood, Massachusetts, and another plant in Portsmouth, NH, operated by its partner in contract manufacturing Lonza Ltd.
However, it was not able to produce at its maximum capacity from the start, due to the need to introduce new equipment and processes in stages. Moderna was still training newly hired workers and was experiencing issues such as equipment malfunctions and blockages in obtaining spare parts such as filters.
“There hasn’t been a single week since we started that we haven’t had any problems,” Mr. Andres said. “In making drugs, it is absolutely impossible not to have problems at the beginning. It takes time.”
Today, the company has trained its employees and figured out how to tackle challenges such as getting raw material to its factories faster, he said. The company also looked for ways to speed up the process, including shortening the time it takes after the end of a batch to inspect and package the vials.
It plans to further ramp up production by increasing the number of doses in each vial from 10 to 15, which requires regulatory approval from the United States, Andres said.
“We are in the zone,” he said. “I like our chances of continuing to deliver.”
According to a spokeswoman for Pfizer, New York-based Pfizer has more than doubled its weekly U.S. production of Covid-19 vaccine doses to more than 13 million, from five million in early February.
Pfizer increased production in part by realizing that it was quickly supplying certain circular filters used in the production process and that it could not get more from its supplier as quickly as needed. Filters remove some components of the vaccine during production.
The company has started recycling the filters so that they can be reused each two or three times, said Chaz Calitri, Pfizer’s vice president of operations for sterile injectables in the United States and Europe.
The company also faced constraints in obtaining from outside suppliers the tiny particles of fat called lipids that form the protective shell around the vaccine’s genetic material. So Pfizer began producing the material at its plants in Kalamazoo, Mich., And Groton, Connecticut, and completed three batches, Calitri said.
And the company has added more high speed vial filling lines to its Kalamazoo plant and will expand vial filling to another plant in McPherson, Kan. The lines can fill up to 575 vials per minute, Calitri said.
“We are not finished at all,” he said. “There is no doubt that we are going to blow 13 million a week and go much higher in the very near future.”
Johnson & Johnson’s initial supply, when the company’s vaccine was cleared late last month, was lower than federal officials expected, but analysts expect more steady production in the weeks to come. will add to the overall supply of doses.
J&J is boosting internal production and working with other companies, including Merck, to grow further. A spokesperson for J&J said the company is on track to deliver a total of 20 million doses for use in the United States by the end of March.
This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing.