Vaccination: Concerns about the first shortages of ingredients for the production of anti-Covid vaccines (Illustration) -

Marin Driguez / SIPA

These are the ingredients, glass to make the vials, plastic or even caps ... Shortages appear in the supply chain for the production of anti-Covid vaccines, the main players in the sector worried on Tuesday, calling to remove the obstacles to their marketing.

The partners of the Covax system (WHO, the Alliance for Gavi vaccines and Cepi, its research branch), the International Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry (IFPMA) but also manufacturers from developing countries, experts and governments, met Monday and Tuesday around a virtual table to discuss the challenges caused by the very large-scale production of vaccines.

Twice as many doses produced this year

The pharmaceutical industry expects to produce 10 billion doses of vaccines this year, double the manufacturing capacity of 2019, all vaccines combined.

"This is the biggest increase in production the world has ever known," said director general of IFMPA, the lobby of pharmaceutical groups, Thomas Cueni at the end of the meeting.

“It's no surprise that we've seen some snags,” he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 2.6 million people since the end of December 2019, sparking unprecedented demand for vaccines.

To manufacture these doses, you not only need ingredients in unprecedented quantities, but also glass for vials, plastic or even caps, at a time when globalized supply chains are destabilized by the pandemic.

"We have seen in recent weeks and months an increase in supply chain tensions," said Richard Hatchett, director of Cepi.

Controls on exports that worry

"Companies are starting to report occasional shortages of essential materials, raw materials, (…) and even equipment necessary for the manufacture of vaccines," he added.

He was concerned that some countries want in particular "to impose controls on exports (...) as the United States did with the Defense Production Act."

(…) These mechanisms (…) can create real problems.


In a statement, they called for promoting the free movement of goods and labor.

They also encourage technology transfers and production partnerships between laboratories and vaccine manufacturers, such as AstraZeneca with the Serum Institute of India.

However, no mention is made of the proposal by India and South Africa which requests the temporary lifting of patents submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a request denounced by the laboratories.

"All those who know about vaccine manufacturing (...) know that intellectual property is not responsible for bottlenecks, but the scarcity of ingredients and raw materials," said the boss of the 'IFPMA.


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