BACK

What impact is COVID-19 vaccine production having on other immunizations?

This article was published on
July 7, 2021

This explainer is more than 90 days old. Some of the information might be out of date or no longer relevant. Browse our homepage for up to date content or request information about a specific topic from our team of scientists.

Vaccine production for COVID-19 immunizations has interrupted, delayed, re-organized, or completely suspended other shots, especially routine childhood vaccines. As a result, many countries have been experiencing a decline in immunization coverage of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases

Vaccine production for COVID-19 immunizations has interrupted, delayed, re-organized, or completely suspended other shots, especially routine childhood vaccines. As a result, many countries have been experiencing a decline in immunization coverage of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases

Publication

What our experts say

Vaccine production for COVID-19 immunizations has interrupted, delayed, re-organized, or completely suspended other shots, especially routine childhood vaccines. As a result, many countries have been experiencing a decline in immunization coverage of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, including: 

  • Bacillus- Calmette Guérin
  • Polio, Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal Measles Mumps and Rubella 

This phenomenon could lead to vaccine-preventable infections and related deaths during and following the pandemic. Twice as many children died of measles during the last 2019 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia also impacted these countries immunizations coverage.    

Before COVID-19 shots became available, annual production of all vaccines in the world was about five billion doses, according to the 2020 World Health Organization Global Vaccine market report. The vaccine manufacturing process requires a range of development stages, from research to preclinical preparation, clinical trials, approval, manufacturing, and distribution. This operation employs highly skilled technical personnel such as basic science researchers, medical doctors, statisticians, medical writers, and team leaders with PhDs to name a few  — and this type of personnel was in short supply, even before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Hiring, training, and developing production and quality personnel to maintain the process and quality systems for vaccines is challenging. Technical competence, as well as knowledge of the latest technologies and global regulatory requirements are essential.

Carving out manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines in such a short period of time requires the global vaccine production process to divert existing manufacturing capacity to make COVID-19 vaccines. Diversion of capacity for COVID-19 has already threatened the production of other therapeutic drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies, which are widely used to treat cancers.

Context and background

The first COVID-19 vaccine was developed in less than a year, and its rollout was the fastest vaccine rollout ever achieved. Despite this record speed, however, by mid-March this year 2021, global COVID-19 vaccine production was still less than 500 million doses. The aim is to meet the projected global demand of an estimated 9.5 billion doses. Therefore, it’s still necessary to further scale up the production of doses needed to control the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Resources

  1. Chandir, S., Siddiqi, D. A., Mehmood, M., Setayesh, H., Siddique, M., Mirza, A., ... & Khan, A. J. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 pandemic response on uptake of routine immunizations in Sindh, Pakistan: an analysis of provincial electronic immunization registry data. Vaccine, 38(45), 7146-7155.
  2. Masresha, B. G., Luce Jr, R., Weldegebriel, G., Katsande, R., Gasasira, A., & Mihigo, R. (2020). The impact of a prolonged ebola outbreak on measles elimination activities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, 2014-2015. The Pan African Medical Journal, 35(Suppl 1).
  3. World Health Organization Global Vaccine Market Report (World Health Organizations)
  4. Challenges and solutions to scaling up covid-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity. (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations)
  5. Scaling up covid-19 vaccine production: What are the problems and implications? (The BMJ Opinion)
  6. Dinleyici, E. C., Borrow, R., Safadi, M. A. P., van Damme, P., & Munoz, F. M. (2020). Vaccines and routine immunization strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics, 1-8.
  7. Nelson, R. (2020). COVID-19 disrupts vaccine delivery. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 20(5), 546.
  8. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Administration of Selected Routine Childhood and Adolescent Vaccinations — 10 U.S. Jurisdictions, March–September 2020. (CDC)

Media briefing

Media Release

Expert Comments: 

No items found.

Q&A

No items found.