Sector Report

Q4 2020: The final stretch for vaccines

  • Multi Asset
  • Healthcare
  • Europe

There was a point at which we were warned that a vaccine for COVID-19 might never be discovered. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel now. There are more than 200 vaccines in the works, with many in late stage clinical trials and some currently being distributed after receiving emergency regulatory approval. But this introduces new obstacles to overcome – manufacturing and distributing these vaccines on a mass scale could prove just as challenging as the initial endeavour. Not only do some of the candidates require ultracold temperatures reaching to -80℃ to remain stable, but more than one dose, timed up to four weeks after the first jab, is required for high efficacy. Our Interviews have explored these topics within the vaccine industry in more depth, as well as how they could be addressed.

According to a director at Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, current industry throughput stands at about 10 billion doses per year. The volume commitments from the vaccine producers – Pfizer said it would produce 1.3 billion, AstraZeneca two billion, Moderna 500 million, and CanSino around 100 million to 200 million by end-2021 – “suggest significant growth, almost doubling by the end of 2021 and the size of the industry”. Despite this extraordinary jump, the Gavi director believes this is achievable: “Over the next two or three months as EUAs [emergency use authorisations] are issued and as these companies start their manufacturing processes in earnest, I think you’ll see probably roughly one billion doses globally being made available over the next two or three months and then by the end of next year probably the sum total across all these announcements at one point was somewhere around 7.5 billion doses.”

While the vaccine rollout itself contains several unknowns, we already know what is needed to achieve global herd immunity. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 60% population coverage is necessary if a vaccine has 80% efficacy and 100% coverage if the vaccine has 60% efficacy.

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