American drugmaker Pfizer has said it plans to reduce the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of coronavirus vaccine by half – from 110 days to an average of 60 – as it ramps up production, increase efficiencies and the United States speeds up its vaccination programs.
In the last month, the company has doubled output while production has gotten faster – soon, it will take nine or 10 days to make the DNA that starts the vaccine process, from 16.
Efficiences are being improved under a programme called “Project Light Speed,” Pfizer’s vice president for operations for sterile injectables, Chaz Calitri, was quoted as saying by USA Today. “It’s called that for a reason.”
Even though the company has made “a lot of really slick enhancements” as well as accelerate quality control and testing according to Calitri, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and best manufacturing practices are still being met.
Also Read: Pfizer & BioNTech To Increase Production of Vaccine Doses
Along with improving speed, Pfizer is also increasing output by adding manufacturing lines in all its three plants – at Chesterfield, Missouri; Andover, Massachusetts; and in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
More than 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been distributed nationwide as of Saturday. The planned increase could help relieve bottlenecks in the U.S. vaccination drive due to shortages in vaccine.
Although the vaccine rollout is slowly gaining momentum with 9% of Americans vaccinated with at least one shot, Pfizer and Moderna vaccine shipments have been falling short.
Each company is responsible for supplying the U.S. government with 100 million doses of the vaccine by March 31 but they will need to significantly increase the number of weekly doses they release to reach those goals, according to reports.
Also Read: EU Orders 300mn Doses of Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine, Nigeria to Wait for Access
Mid-January, many European nations also complained they were receiving lower-than-expected supplies of vaccines as Pfizer slowed shipments and distribution proceeds unevenly among European Union states.
As the vaccine effort continues, more efficiencies are expected. “There are going to be profound shifts in the way we do business,” Calitri said. The Kalamazoo plant is expected to play a key role in the rapid production of the vaccine.
“We just demonstrated to ourselves that we can go from a phone call in March to having now delivered 50 to 60 million doses,” he added.
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