The makers of COVID-19 vaccines continue to find ways to increase production as manufacturing and delivery issues are being addressed and solved.
The drugmakers testified before Congress Tuesday and detailed how those hurdles are being cleared.
“We did initially experience some problems with the initial ramp up of our vaccine,” Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young said. “In common with other panelists here, we’ve been in the process of developing a manufacturing process for a vaccine product that we’ve never made before.”
For vaccines such as those from Pfizer and Moderna, lipid nanoparticles that are key to vaccine delivery were hard to find so Pfizer, for example, has brought that production ramp-up in-house.
“We’ve made significant investments into our U.S. supply chain,” Young said, adding that the company is targeting a goal of delivering 300 million doses of the two-shot vaccine before the end of July.
The hearings included questions of why the companies couldn’t meet the early demand.
Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge said his company was close to hitting its end-of-2020 goal of 20 million doses. Hoge said Moderna delivered 17.8 million doses by Dec. 31.
Hoge is “very pleased” with the current production rate, citing 9 million doses delivered last week.
He said the company partnering with one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers, Lonza, helped Moderna scale up quickly.
“As they have developed familiarity with that process, they’ve gotten better and better at it,” Hoge said.
Two other companies, AstraZeneca and Novavax, are in Phase 3 trials in the U.S., even as their vaccines are being distributed in other countries. Both anticipate an Emergency Use Authorization in the next couple of months.