US COVID-19 vaccine production starts in September
London, July 14, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Drug-makers partnered with the US government are on track to begin actively manufacturing a vaccine for COVID-19 in the next four to six weeks, a senior administration official said on Monday
The Trump administration has helped finance the development of four COVID-19 vaccines so far through its Operation Warp Speed Program, which aims to produce 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
“If you say exactly when will literally the vaccine materials be in production and manufacturing, it is probably four to six weeks away, but we will be actively manufacturing by the end of summer,” the official, who declined to be identified by name, told Reuters
He added that the administration is already working with companies to equip and outfit manufacturing facilities and acquire raw materials.
The US government has given grants ranging from several hundred million dollars to over $1 billion to Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Novovax Inc.
It also signed a $450 million contract earlier this month with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc to help it supply therapies for patients who are sick with the virus.
Clinical trials for therapeutics can produce results in a matter of weeks, making it possible to produce hundreds of thousands of doses by fall, the senior administration official said.
“While we think is fair to say that vaccine progress is occurring at warp speed pace, faster than any vaccines have been developed in history, therapeutics are even faster,” the official said.
The “slate is not closed” for additional funding agreements and the administration plans to announce more in the future, the official said. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3 million people in the United States and killed more than 130 000.
The Trump administration recently bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the rest of the world.
Experts and campaigners were alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.
Remdesivir, the first drug approved by licensing authorities in the US to treat Covid-19, is made by Gilead and has been shown to help people recover faster from the disease. The first 140,000 doses, supplied to drug trials around the world, have been used up.
The Trump administration has now bought more than 500,000 doses, which is all of Gilead’s production for July and 90% of August and September.