Pharma giant expects to ship half the doses it had originally planned after finding raw materials in early production didn’t meet its standards

Pfizer Inc. expects to ship half of the Covid-19 vaccines it originally planned for this year because of supply-chain problems, but still expects to roll out more than a billion doses in 2021.

“Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected,” a company spokeswoman said. “And it’s important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection.”

Pfizer and Germany-based partner BioNTech SE had hoped to roll out 100 million vaccines world-wide by the end of this year, a plan that has now been reduced to 50 million. The U.K. on Wednesday granted emergency-use authorization for the vaccine, becoming the first Western country to start administering doses.

The two-shot vaccine also is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout before the end of the year. The U.S. regulator also is considering a vaccine developed by Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna Inc. that could begin shipping before Christmas.

The doses are among an array of vaccines that have been developed this year as the coronavirus pandemic has raged across much of the world. Authorities estimate nearly 1.5 million people world-wide have died from the virus, including 273,836 in the U.S. as of Dec. 2.

“We were late,” said a person directly involved in the development of the Pfizer vaccine. “Some early batches of the raw materials failed to meet the standards. We fixed it, but ran out of time to meet this year’s projected shipments.”

Pfizer sources its raw materials from providers in the U.S. and Europe. Scaling up production of these components proved challenging last month as the company awaited the results of its trials, which came in to be 95% effective and well-tolerated in a 44,000-subject trial.

Pfizer wouldn’t say where shortfalls over ingredients arose as it ramped up production. Vaccines typically contain materials from suppliers that can include antivirus agents, antiseptic liquids, sterile water and elements of the DNA of the virus itself that won’t cause serious symptoms but trigger the immune system to make antibodies.

In a typical vaccination campaign, pharmaceutical companies…

To read the full post, please click here (sub may be required).


Our previous Pfizer coverage is here (inc. “Vaccine moonshot at the mercy of logistics”).

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.