COVID-19 Vaccine Progress-Availability Is Nearing Years-End or After Once FDA OK'd

BloombergBusinessweek November 2, 2020 pp42-47. “Here. It. Comes.” “Amid the horrors of the pandemic and America’s mishandling of it, some good news: Operation Warp Speed could produce vaccine soon” By Stephanie Baker and Cynthia Koons.

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Summary of the Article

Interesting article with lots of backstory and some scientific detail. Bottom line details regarding how soon and what steps are involved in delivering vaccine injections are summarized below.

Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services is a key figure in the Operation Warp Speed that selected a CEO in Mid-May 2020. He is quoted as saying “he’s confident that U. S. will be ready to begin vaccinating millions of people by the end of the year.” However Baker and Koons point out based on the experience of one contractor, Emergent, “that timeline looks like a stretch. It’s first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine won’t be available until late January at the earliest. Production finally started in mid-September, but it will take 90 days to produce bulk doses, which will then be shipped to a separate company, Catalent, Inc., based in Somerset, N.J., for filling into vials, a process that takes another 45 days including quality-control checks.” A big concern is that Americans “say they would definitely or probably take it” is at 51% down from 72% in May.

There are many other actions required to actually deliver vaccine injections. These actions are organized in a plan entitled From the Factory to the Frontlines. This plan involves using the military to actually coordinate injecting the vaccine into patients at 75,000 sites. An expected total of 600 million shots, from as many as six vaccine makers, will be “available by April 2020” according to Mango. All except one of six vaccines requires two doses over a period of months and the Pfizer vaccine needs very cold storage of -75°C or -103°F. State agencies will be involved as well but they have many questions, at this point, regarding details of the plan-of-action.

Below is list of contractors awarded from the $18B budget.

Moderna $2.5B (Phase 3), Sanofi with GSK $2.0B (Phase 1&2), Pfizer $1.95B (Phase 3), Novavax $1.6B (Phase 1,2 in U.S. and Phase 3 in U.K.), Johnson&Johnson $1.5B (Phase 3), AstraZeneca $1.2B (Phase 3) and non-vaccine products or services; Emergent Manufacturing $628M, Texas A&M Manufacturing $265M, Corning Vials $204M, SiO2 Vials $143M, Apisect Syringes $138M, Grand Rapid Aseptic Fill-Finish $160M, Cytiva Manufacturing $31M.