File picture: Jessica Amdur
File picture: Jessica Amdur

Covid-19 vaccines: Where they are produced and how they will be distributed

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jan 14, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - To bring the coronavirus pandemic to an end, it is estimated that between 4.7 billion and 5.5 billion people need to be vaccinated globally.

Although a tall order to produce a global vaccine, the three vaccine makers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, which are closest to widespread distribution, estimate a total production capacity of 5.3 billion doses for 2021, which could cover between 2.6 billion and 3.1 billion people.

With such large numbers in the making, it begs the question: where are these vaccines produced and how will they be distributed?

Moderna

The US-based company is working with multiple partners to produce its vaccine.

Switzerland-based Lonza produces the key mRNA active ingredient for the vaccine at its New Hampshire facility and Switzerland.

Germany’s CordenPharma produces the lipids at their Colorado facility – which are used to deliver the mRNA.

The vial filling and packaging is handled by Catalent, a contract manufacturing company at their facility in Bloomington in the state of Indiana city.

Moderna has contracted with Catalent to provide vial filling and packaging to support production of an initial 100 million doses of vaccine.

It plans to produce a minimum of 600 million doses this year, with a goal of producing as many as 1 billion doses in 2021.

In Europe, the Moderna vaccine production will be produced by Lonza Group at a plant in Switzerland, which will apparently have a capacity to produce 800 000 doses a day.

It will then be sent to Laboratorios Farmacéuticos Rovi, a Spanish company, that readies individual doses for delivery.

Oxford-AstraZeneca

Developed by the Swedish-British drugmaker in partnership with the University of Oxford plans to produce some 3 billion doses of their drug for use in 2021,

They have established separate supply chains for the vaccine in Europe, the United States, China and India. It has manufacturing agreements with 10 service providers.

In the United States, the vaccine will be produced by Emergent BioSolutions Inc. at their Baltimore facility.

In Europe, the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine will come from Germany’s Merck KGaA at their Hamburg and Darmstadt facility.

French company Novasep will produce vaccine active substance in Lyon and the production operations will be carried out at Novasep's Belgian site in Seneffe.

In China, AstraZeneca reached a licensing deal with Shenzhen-based firm BioKangtai. Under the pact, BioKangtai has exclusive rights in China to clinical development, production and commercialization rights to the vaccine.

The world's largest vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, will produce doses for India and also for low-income countries.

In Australia, the Melbourne-based CSL biotech company is responsible for manufacturing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for Australians.

BioNTech-Pfizer

Unlike some vaccine makers, Pfizer has retained significant in-house manufacturing assets.

Produced by German biotech firm BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the company plans to keep everything in-house.

Raw materials, the mRNA active, and finished doses for their Covid-19 vaccine, are manufactured at its own plants in Andover, Massachusetts; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and St. Louis.

In Europe, the vaccine is being produced at BioNtech and Pfizer facilities in Mainz and Marburg, Germany. As well as in Belgium at their Puurs facility.

Pfizer and BioNtech project plan to produce as much as 1.3 billion doses for global use in 2021.

Sputnik V

The vaccine is developed and produced by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow.

Supplies for the global market will be produced by Russia’s sovereign wealth fund (RDIF).

CoronaVac

The vaccine is developed by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac at their Beijing facility. It plans to produce 300 million doses a year.

Supplies and shipment of the vaccine is handled by CoronaVac. According to the company, it has sold more than 300 million doses, mostly to low- and middle-income countries.

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