Drug manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna are ramping up production of their COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is waiting for approval for their one-shot vaccine. According to a statement presented to a House subcommittee earlier today, this could end up doubling, possibly tripling the vaccine supply in the US in the coming weeks.
Last year, getting an effective vaccine against the coronavirus was all the rage. This year, it’s actually getting that vaccine injected into your arm. With the whole world waiting for one, demand far outstrips supply, even considering that there are already multiple vaccine options available. With this in mind, manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, arguably the two largest suppliers of the vaccine worldwide, are planning to dramatically increase production.
The announcement was made earlier today during a congressional hearing on the US’s immunization campaign. Alongside these two manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson (J&J, whose one-shot vaccine is being reviewed for approval) also said they would be able to ship millions of vaccine doses around the country.
In early February, Pfizer supplied around 4 to 5 million doses a week, according to chief business officer John Young. They plan to increase this to 13 million doses a week by mid-March. Moderna, who are currently shipping around 20 million doses a week, plans to increase this to around 40 million a week by April, explained Dr. Stephen Hoge, the company’s president.
Moderna is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put 15 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in every vial, instead of the present 10 doses — which would allow it to ship many more doses with relative ease. Pfizer, on the other hand, says “significant investment” in several manufacturing sites along with improvements to the production process would allow for the planned increase in output.
J&J testified that they could produce enough one-shot vaccine for around 20 million Americans by the end of March. A single-shot vaccine would make the immunization process faster and smoother, as every individual will only need to visit a vaccination center once. The shot has not yet been approved for use, but J&J plans to start shipping as soon as they get approval. An independent panel of FDA advisers will be reviewing the compound on February 26th. If everything goes well, emergency approval should come a few days after that.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is being reviewed on February 26 by a panel of independent FDA advisers and if the panel vote is favorable, emergency clearance could come soon after.
With the U.S. currently being the single worst-hit country in the world, both by the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, any improvements to their vaccination drive is extremely welcome. Hopefully, the efforts of these companies will end up saving many lives.