Uncertainty Surrounds Manufacturing Of COVID-19 Vaccines

Oct. 26, 2020
Experts from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)’s COVID-19 Response Team provide valued expertise to the Royal Society and the Center for Global Development in key reports launched recently.

IChemE COVID-19 Response Team contributes to vaccine development reports.

Experts from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)’s COVID-19 Response Team, set up to co-ordinate the chemical and process engineering support to the pandemic, provide valued expertise to the Royal Society and the Center for Global Development in key reports launched recently.

In-depth knowledge of the pharmaceutical and biochemical industries is vital in understanding the processes required to transform early pharmaceutical development processes into commercial manufacture, including in the field of vaccines. IChemE brings together a wealth of specialist knowledge in these areas that has provided real benefit to a wide range of stakeholders, working in partnership with the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering UK affiliate (ISPE UK affiliate).

The Royal Society’s report on vaccine development and implementation scenarios, to which the IChemE and ISPE UK Affiliate team provided their input, finds that many challenges remain despite progress on COVID-19 vaccines.

“Recognizing that the development, scale-up and manufacture of vaccines and medicines requires the specialist knowledge of chemical engineers, biochemical engineers and process engineers, members of the IChemE COVID-19 Response Team working in partnership with the ISPE UK Affiliate, were pleased to be asked to contribute to this report which recognizes the sheer magnitude of the COVID-19 challenge,” says Tim Clayton, leading the IChemE team’s input to the Royal Society’s report.

He continues, “The fact remains that there are still many unknowns and obstacles ahead. We still don't know how many doses will be needed, nor do we know how long a vaccine will be effective for. The time required to build sustainable manufacturing capacity is potentially years, and we need to allow for the possible need to change vaccine types for repeated dosing over many years. This is not something that will go away in a year or so and therefore it is also critical not to ignore therapeutic approaches for people who do catch the disease.”

The Center for Global Development modelled the COVID-19 vaccine portfolio and their published policy paper, co-authored by Adrian La Porta and Vaughan Thomas from IChemE’s COVID-19 Response Team, concludes that there is significant uncertainty surrounding the development, approval and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines. The paper found that the chances of developing a safe and efficacious vaccine are high, but it will not occur in the immediate future, and it is unlikely to be the silver bullet that resolves the pandemic and returns our world to normal.

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