COVID Vaccines: Rollout Slowed Due to Shortage of Giant Plastic Bag
Manufacturers Aim to Supply Approximately 11 billion Doses Globally by The End of 2021
Although the amount of production for the COVID vaccine has been increased from zero up to billions of dosages in record time, recently, due to the shortage in the number of raw materials along with the required materials has limited the amount of COVID vaccine dosages that can be made.
In an attempt to try to further ease some of the coming bottlenecks, a new marketplace has recently been launched, which is equivalent to an eBay service for pharmaceuticals, which would help the manufacturers along with suppliers to check the availability of items along with allowing them to trade while being in a single platform.
This platform developed to help in the production of COVID vaccines would allow further help in the matching of unused materials and the stock available in surplus quantity for firms that require them, initiating with items that are under the most pressure.
Following are some of the key components that are the major causes of bottlenecks and some of the wider issues which surround the COVID vaccine rollout, like intellectual property.
Giant plastic bags
One of the main pressing matters has been the reduction in the required amount of big-sized and sterile plastic bags that are used inside the pharmaceutical firms for the growth of vaccine cells while placed inside large chambers knowns as bioreactors.
They are similar to small bags that are to be used in home-brewing processes. These giant-sized plastic bags, which have the capacity to hold up to 2,000 liters of content, are required in the procedure for the production of all four types of COVID vaccines that are currently being manufactured.
Plastic pipes and Filters
There have been several concerns regarding the availability of plastic pipes and filters, which are sometimes mentioned as single-use assemblies, and both of these materials are required in the manufacturing process of all four vaccine variants. Although the plastic tubes are required in several of the biological processes during the production procedure, they could only be used for a single time.
The essential items which are needed for the development of cultures of cells, which are used for the production of some of the drug substances, have also suffered from supply shortages.
Another problem has been addressed with a special ingredient in the COVID vaccine that is called lipid nanoparticles, which are ultra-tiny particles and are crucial towards the pioneering of mRNA vaccines which are currently being manufactured by Moderna and BioNTech/ Pfizer.
Before the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the previous year, these nanoparticles, which are currently being utilized to house the main drug substance to provide easy delivery into the human body, were only being developed in very small quantities that were used in clinical trials, due to which the sudden upscaling of these items proved to be a challenging task.
Trained staff workers
As the manufacturing process of the COVID vaccine has been ramped up, which in turn required the increased need for skilled staff workers. Those that had been previously involved in a similar industry have stated that some of the locations have been struggling to find the required amount of trained staff to fill the specialized designations.
The firm is struggling as they have to constantly move the staff among the sites, but it has become even more complicated when they are transferring staff members to the other company that has been contracted to do the COVID vaccine manufacturing.
To help in the solution of the problem, the entire pharmaceutical industry is wanting to see their working staff that would be able to travel between all the international sites with more ease and accessibility.
Whether the patent protection and intellectual property are seen to be blockers towards the rollout of COVID vaccine globally as it has become very dependent on who has been asked.
Intellectual property (IP) refers towards the creation or formation which is protected by law through things such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents. They are currently aiming to help ensure the originator is rewarded through amounts of profits and protect their invention from retaining their integrity and quality.
The United States has shown its support behind a move at the WTO (World Trade Organization), which is an intergovernmental body that helps in the promotion of global commerce, and would help to temporarily lift the patent protection for the COVID vaccines.