Understanding Vaccine Production 17-Mar-2021 …
The letter, from NHS England’s chief commercial officer Emily Lawson and Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care, warns the problem is likely to hit from 29 March and last for four weeks. It says people aged 49 years or younger should not be offered vaccinations unless they are in a higher priority group.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
Following our letter to you on 2 March, we are writing to update you on the latest position on vaccine supply and deployment over the next six weeks.
From the start of the programme, the NHS has successfully had to adjust week-to-week vaccine delivery in the light of fluctuations in supply. As previously notified, pleasingly this week and next see significant increases in vaccine supply. However, the Government’s Vaccines Task Force have now notified us that there will be a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March, meaning volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained. They now currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.
We have today opened up national booking to everyone aged 50 and over, so over this next period it is vital we focus on vaccinating those in cohorts 1 – 9, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as delivering to the agreed schedule significantly increased numbers of second doses, which double from the beginning of April.
Maximising uptake in Cohorts 1 to 9
We are asking systems to renew efforts, working with local authorities, the voluntary, community and faith sectors and other local partners to ensure maximum cohort penetration, offering and re-offering vaccinations to those in Cohort 1 to 9.
Guidance published in February on ‘pop up centres’ allows local systems to set up temporary mobile vaccination clinics in areas with lower uptake rates, at places of worship and other community settings where those from eligible cohorts who have not presented at fixed vaccination sites may feel more welcome.
Local systems will also want to consider dedicated sessions for groups with specific access requirements, extend visits to housebound patients and schedule second or third care home visits, ensuring those at greatest risk have access to the vaccine.
manufacturing process and consortium up and running. Here is a thread of why there is an issue with doses, with some science and #sciencepolicy. The EU looks in the wrong to me.
To make the vaccine, you need to grow up a huge volume of cells, they make the vaccine, then the vaccine is purified. The manufacturing process is new. It relies on elements used before, but each new process has its own parameters.
That means each manufacturing site has to on board the exact process and get it running. Usually this takes many months, but is being done urgently for COVID.
When you book manufacturing capacity, you are booking the manufacturing slot. It might take 2 weeks to make a batch of vaccine. With a new process, you always get the same vaccine, but the yield can vary.
Maybe a good yield is a million doses per run (in reality, it depends on how big your cell culture is). But maybe the first few runs only yield 250 thousand doses.
It costs the same-it takes the same number of staff, same equipment etc regardless of how good the yield is. It also takes the same time. Projections on available doses tend to rely on best case scenarios. If each site gets maximum yield from each run, you get all those doses
It takes experience to get to maximum yields. The first manufacturing sites to join the consortium started this process almost a year ago working with us to supply the UK. They have worked through the kinks on their sites and are now producing top yields.
Sites with less experience are still getting to that stage. You can get high yields from the start, but usually you don’t. This is normal, just not something that is so in the public eye.
It’s like giving a brand new, very complicated recipe to a chef and asking them to make it in a new kitchen they’ve never seen before with new equipment. The first time everything takes a little longer.
What we are seeing is predicable #vaccinenationalism. In my view the EU are behaving poorly, but in the interests of their people. If things were reversed I expect the UK would do similar. For the record, I’m pro-EU but unimpressed today.
#vaccinenationalism was always going to happen. Programmes for sharing the vaccine equitably are to be applauded but countries will mostly look after their own first (or look to gain soft power). It’s naïve to think otherwise – we need practical solutions.
That’s why we developed a process that is cheap and can be transferred to any manufacturer in the world. That way no one nation or region is making all the vaccine and holding all the cards.
It is the proudest achievement of my career that I contributed to achieving that. I’m delighted that
have continued to expand that work to a huge network of manufacturing partners globally.
That our work with @SerumInstituteIndia and others back in March also means massive yields are being achieved there and will used across the globe.
This was achieved through work led by
and our post-docs Carina Joe and Sofia Fedosyuk, plus
. Lots of companies contributed resources and expertise to help drive this forward too.
In my view, each region has its own supply of vaccine to prevent one region trying to claim what was intended for somewhere else. It is a shame there has been yield issues in the EU supply, but why demand access to the UK supply?
It isn’t a case of we’re all in the same butcher shop on a first come first served basis. The UK and EU have their own butchers. The UK have paid their butcher, are leaving with their items and the EU is claiming them because their butcher didn’t quite have enough.
There is a lesson in this. Manufacturing capacity is important. Countries have a choice on how they respond going forward. Having more flexible vaccine/drug manufacturing capacity so they can supply themselves is a good idea.
#vaccinenationalism disappears once we all have the ability to make vaccines. The more we rely on sharing between countries with their own interest, the harder it is to get the vaccine to everyone.
twitter.com/sandyddouglas/ first doses of our vaccine arriving soon in South Africa. Thread on this amazing achievement, pricing and supply
Amazing news. Our team @JennerInstitute are so pleased to see this! A few quick responses to some pointing out it could be even better (more/cheaper/single-dose) 1/ twitter.com/GovernmentZA/s…
Show this thread
Adam John Ritchie
And although it is Sunday, there is no downtime in the lab. There are experiments on improving process yields and work on a range of vaccines to be done. Carina and I are hard at work, luckily both better at science than I am with a phone camera.
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