We make a vaccine and then job done, right? Not by a very long ...

World

We make a vaccine and then job done, right? Not by a very long shot

The task of rapidly rolling out jabs at scale is enormous. There are simply too many obstacles – and unknowns

Hannah Uttley

The race to develop a vaccine for coronavirus has become one of the biggest scientific endeavours in history, but even once a jab has been proven to work, manufacturers will still have a mountain to climb.

Manufacturing a vaccine under normal circumstances is estimated to take an average of two years, and requires numerous raw materials such as sera, salts and syringes, while also being subject to rigorous quality controls. Even for seasoned players, such as GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, building facilities at scale can take years. GSK expects the $100m (R1.8bn) facility being built to produce its shingles vaccine Shingrix to take at least half a decade.

“Vaccine manufacturing is one of the most complex, challenging and highly regulated areas of the pharma industry,” says Peter Welford, a healthcare analyst at Jefferies. “Producing any vaccine at scale is not trivial; the challenge of producing one with likely global demand on an accelerated basis, even if it has a relatively simple manufacturing process, shouldn’t be underestimated.”..

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