As the world braces for the Omicron wave and booster campaigns are gaining steam, vaccine supply has once again come into focus in many countries. Germany’s new health secretary Karl Lauterbach for example rang the alarm bells this week, saying that the country is likely to run into supply constraints in the first quarter of 2022, potentially disrupting the ongoing booster campaign as well as efforts to close Germany’s sizeable vaccination gap.
The fact that vaccines are still in short supply in many places says more about distribution and the state of the pandemic after almost two years than it does about global production capacities. Never before has a vaccine been developed, tried, tested and manufactured faster than the Covid-19 vaccines have. And once the vaccines were widely approved, the manufacturing scale-up has been nothing short of historic.
According to Airfinity data released by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers’ Network (DCVMN), and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), more than 11 billion vaccine doses will be produced by the end of this year, with December production alone set to reach almost 1.5 billion doses. If production continues at the current rate, a total of 19.8 billion vaccine doses could be produced by the end of the first half of 2022, which is equivalent to 2.5 doses for every person in the world.
Considering these figures, it’s even more important to rethink global vaccine distribution in 2022 in order to reduce vaccine inequality. “Vaccine manufacturers have delivered on their promise of innovation breakthroughs and have been ramping up manufacturing output to historic levels,” Thomas Cueni, Director General of the IFPMA said in a statement. “We’re ready to continue innovating in the light of new variants, and to persevere in our efforts to produce more doses, but we call for greater commitment and urgency to remove the barriers which prevent getting vaccine into people’s arms,” he said with respect to the unequal distribution of vaccines.