Covid-19: Expansion of vaccine deliveries worldwide

Manufacturers of licensed covid-19 vaccines continue to expand production capacity - partly in their own plants and partly with the help of production partners and licensees.

Nahaufnahme von kreisförmiger Produktlinie zur Impfstoffproduktion mit Ampullen

Huge expansion of production capacity

Vaccine stockpiles in selected countries. LMICs = Lower Middle Income Countries; LICs = Least Income Countries (Source: EFPIA based on Airfinity

This can also be seen in the request by the African Center for Disease Control (CDC) to postpone the delivery of donated vaccine until the second half of 2022, if possible, because it cannot be vaccinated fast enough at the moment.

Manufacturers in India and South Africa were therefore forced to reduce or foreseeably discontinue production due to lack of demand.

It shows that the amount of vaccine doses delivered per week was particularly large in the second and fourth quarters of 2021. Currently, Germany sources vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and Novavax (the supply contract with AstraZeneca has expired and has not been renewed). Valneva and Sanofi are expected to join as suppliers later in the year.

Production networks continue to grow

The originator companies themselves have the greatest interest in ensuring that as much of their Covid 19 vaccines as possible can be delivered. That is why they are continuing to expand production capacity, which began in parallel with the development programs for their vaccines, despite the slump in demand. They are doing this partly in their own plants, where they are bringing in additional production lines; partly they are expanding their network to include further production partners and licensees. After retooling or expanding their facilities and training their personnel, these partners could or can supply components for the vaccine or take over certain manufacturing steps in parallel with the original manufacturer. Licensees are also usually able to manufacture and market the respective vaccine completely independently.

The example of BioNTech and Pfizer illustrates how companies have expanded their production networks step by step and are still doing so:

Date of announcementCompany; LocationFunction in the production of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
May 5th, 2020BioNTech; Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate)R&D, Production
May 5th, 2020Pfizer; Puurs (Belgium)Production
May 5th, 2020Pfizer; Kalamazoo, Andover, Chesterfield (all USA)Production
Sept. 2nd, 2020Polymun; Vienna (Austria)Formulation
Sept. 10th, 2020Dermapharm; Brehna (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany)since October 2020 Formulation and filling
Sept. 14th, 2020Siegfried; Hameln (Lower Saxony)since mid-June 2021 Filling
Sept. 17th, 2020BioNTech; Marburg (Hesse)Production(since February)
Oct. 7th, 2020Rentschler Biopharma; Laupheim (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)Production steps mRNA purification
Nov. 18th, 2021Delpharm; Saint-Rémy-sur-Avre (Normandy, France)since August 2021 Filling
Jan. 6th, 2021Dermapharm; Brehna (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany)Capacity doubling for formulation and filling
Jan. 13th, 2021Baxter BioPharma Solutions; Halle (Westphalia, Germany)Sterile manufacturing services (since February 2021)
Jan. 14th, 2021Allergopharma; Reinbek (Schleswig-Holstein)vaccine formulation(since April 30th, 2021)
Jan. 15th, 2021Pfizer; Puurs (Belgium)Rebuild for more production capacity
Jan. 27th, 2021Sanofi; Frankfurt a.M.from summer 2021 Filling
Jan. 29th, 2021Novartis; Stein in Aargau (Switzerland)since end of Q2 Filling
Feb. 1st, 2021Rentschler Biopharma; Laupheim (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)Expansion of capacity for mRNA purification manufacturing step for BioNTech/Pfizer
Feb. 5th, 2021Merck; Darmstadt (Hesse)Accelerated supply of lipids needed for BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
Feb. 11th, 2021Evonik; Hanau and Dossenheim (Germany)Expansion of lipid production for BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
Mar. 5th, 2021Polymun; Klosterneuburg (Austria)Expansion of capacity for production of lipid nanoparticles for BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
May 10th, 2021BioNTech; Singaporefuture production, after construction of a production plant
May 17th, 2021Biomay (Austria)future supply of plasmids for mRNA production
May 19th, 2021Pfizer; Grange Castle near Dublin (Ireland)future production
June 1st, 2021Pfizer; Puurs (Belgium)Expansion of production
July 21st, 2021Lipoid; Ludwigshafen a. Rh. (Germany)Expansion of supply of certain lipids for formulation
July 21st, 2021BioVac; Cape Town (South Africa)Future participation in BioNTech/Pfizer production network from early 2022 to produce vaccine for the African Union (starting from active ingredient supplied from Europe)
Aug. 24th, 2021BioNTech, Marburg (Germany)Expansion of production capacity
Aug. 26th, 2021Eurofarma; Sao Paulo (Brazil)Future participation in BioNTech/Pfizer production network from early 2022 to produce vaccine for South America (starting from precursor supplied from the USA)
Oct. 18th, 2021Patheon Italia; Monza (Italy)Production of finished vaccine
Oct. 18th, 2021Catalent Anagni; Anagni (Italy)Production of finished vaccine
Oct. 21st, 2021Novartis; Ljubljana (Slovenia)in the course of 2022: filling of finished vaccine
Dec. 10th, 2021Novartis; Kundl (Austria)Production of plasmids to be supplied for mRNA production
Dec. 16th, 2021Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (subsidiary of Pfizer); Andover, Massachusetts (USA)Expansion of vaccine production

Source: Press releases of the companies mentioned and the EMA; media reports; information provided by the companies.

Collaborations are the way to rapidly expand supplies for Corona vaccines

By contrast, the idea of contracting out the production of vaccines to any other pharmaceutical company by means of patent cancellation and compulsory licenses does not promise a rapid expansion of production capacities. After all, vaccine production is one of the most demanding tasks in drug manufacturing. Every detail is important to ensure that the vaccines are effective and well tolerated.
Only with the help of the original manufacturer can another company be quickly put in a position to participate in production. Therefore, cooperations are the conclusive way to rapidly expand production volumes.

Voluntary licensing and production collaborations of originator companies with partner companies for Covid-19 vaccines (Source: EFPIA based on Airfinity).

Licensees and production partners for vaccines from European, US or Chinese manufacturers exist, for example, in Asia, South America and Africa:

  • Serum Institute of India under license from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax.
  • SK Bioscience (South Korea) with license from Novavax.
  • Fiocruz (Brazil) under license from AstraZeneca.
  • Aspen (South Africa) licensed from Janssen (USA) to supply African countries.
  • Vacsera (Egypt) with license from Sinovac (China).
  • Minapharm (Egypt) with license from Russian Direct Investment Fund (Russia) for production of Sputnik V.
  • Sothema (Morocco) under license from Sinovac (China).
  • Saidal (Algeria) under a joint venture with Sinovac (China).

In addition, several European and U.S. companies have signed agreements with African companies with the aim of jointly building production capacity for Covid 19 vaccines:

  • BioNTech and Pfizer have been working with Biovac in South Africa since an announcement in July 2021 on a technology transfer that will gradually allow the company to carry out full production of mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 itself. The milestone goal is for Biovac to begin filling European-produced vaccine batches for Africa in 2022. Upstream production steps could then also take place in Africa by four years from now, if all goes according to plan.
  • BioNTech also plans to begin construction of an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa in mid-2022 (location not yet announced), which will initially be operated by the company itself but will then be handed over to local partners. Partners in the project include the Republic of Rwanda and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal. Newly developed modular mRNA production facilities are to play a role.
  • The Belgian company Unizima (a subsidiary of Univercells) is also collaborating with the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal, in the MADIBA project to establish a vaccine production facility. A plant in Senegal is expected to be ready for production during 2022. The MADIBA project is also supported by the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  • U.S.-based Dyadic International also announced a collaboration with South Africa's Rubic Consortium in July 2021. Under the agreement, the Consortium will be equipped with Dyadic's cell culture technology for the production of protein-based Covid-19 vaccines.
  • Moderna announced in October 2021 that it plans to build an mRNA vaccine plant in Africa. It would then produce Covid-19 vaccine as well as other vaccines. Currently, Moderna said at the time, it was searching across countries for a suitable site.
  • NantWorks, the parent company of ImmunityBio (a partner in a Covid-19 vaccine project), opened the Nant-SA Vaccine Manufacturing Campus in Brackenfel, South Africa, in January 2022 and will continue to expand it. In the future, it will be used, among other things, to produce an mRNA vaccine that incorporates the nucleocapsid protein in addition to the spike protein.
  • Moderna signed a memorandum of understanding with Kenya in March 2022 to establish a factory for mRNA vaccine. Adium Pharma is Moderna's logistics partner for the supply of 18 African countries.