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Vaccine production: a billion-dollar industry

16:00 | 14/08/2020

According to estimates of research firm Alliance Bernstein (headquarter in the US), the global vaccine production industry is worth $ 52 billion per year. In which, 4 developers including Sanofi, Merk, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline accounted for 85% of the market share.

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vaccine production a billion dollar industry
Many companies are in a race to produce the Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: AFP

Four years. That’s the fastest a vaccinehas ever been developed -- and most take 10 to 15. But scientists are now racing to do it in under one.

Dozens of research teams around the world are working to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, using a mix of established techniques and new technologies.

Funding for a vaccine has never been greater, with billions of dollars pouring in from around the world to make a product that could help to control the pandemic -- but the US, China and Europe have invested the most.

Before even the most vulnerable groups can get a shot in the arm from their family doctor, however, a lot of work needs to be done -- and a lot of deals need to be made.

As the coronavirus continues to accelerate unabated, here’s what it will take to bring a vaccine to the masses and how each of the three biggest players are faring in their quest to make it happen as quickly as possible, according to the CNN.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, many smaller companies have entered the game. One of the highlights is Moderna, the company that was not established in the past 10 years and has never successfully developed a vaccine. The vaccine developed by Moderna in conjunction with the American National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases has shown promising early-stage results. Moderna's share price jumped from $ 20 in January to $ 80 in July, according to Newsroom.

When Russian President Putin announced Russia registered the world's first Covid-19 vaccine, health experts in the US were concerned that President Trump would feel compelled to compete and would rush to announce the country's vaccine, even before the tests were complete.

vaccine production a billion dollar industry
Photo: KT

The US is not in a race to "who finish first" with Russia

In response to the news that Russia has approved the "world's first Covid-19 vaccine", US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on August 12 that the development of the Covid-19 vaccine was not the race to see who would finish first.

The point is not to be first,” Azar said. “The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world.”

He emphasized that two of the six Covid-19 vaccines that the US government invested in had entered a Phase 3 clinical trial a few weeks ago, while the Russian vaccine had just begun the process. Data on the initial test in Russia are also not disclosed.

Never before has a vaccine in the developed world transitioned from phase 1 to stage 3 as quickly as the Moderna's vaccine. " We need transparent data, it’s got to be phase 3 data that shows that the vaccine is safe and effective and that’s what President Trump is leading with Operation Warp Speed, ”said Mr. Azar.

During the previous press conference, President Trump also said that his administration had reached an agreement worth more than $ 1.5 billion with the Moderna company to produce and distribute 100 million doses of the company's vaccine as soon as it is approved.

In India, which is prized for vaccine production, at least seven companies are joining the race to find the Covid-19 vaccine, according to PTI News. Billionaire Bill Gates, who sponsors many international alliances to provide vaccines to poor countries, in July assessed India produces more vaccines than anywhere else and that it can afford to produces Covid-19 vaccine for the world.

Despite receiving many orders, a number of firms such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson announced that they would not take profits while Covid-19 was still a global pandemic. AstraZeneca said it would provide the vaccine at a cost equal to the production cost of about $ 5 per dose, while the Johnson & Johnson price tag was $ 15 per dose. After the pandemic ends, these two companies' prices may rise.

vaccine production a billion dollar industry
Johnson & Johnson has signed up to deliver 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, if the program succeeds. (J&J)

Pfizer is expected to sell for $ 30 a dose while Moderna is priced between $ 60 and $ 90 for 2 doses and $ 48 - 56 if bought in bulk. Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines require a full two-dose injection to be effective. According to India.com, SII in India announced that it would sell 100 million doses of the vaccine at a price of $ 3 to a group of 92 middle - low income countries.

However, the Covid-19 vaccine is not expected or believed to be exclusive to rich countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has combined with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) to establish a global Covid-19 vaccine access program ( COVAX). According to Livemint, the countries participating in this program have a common budget to invest in different vaccine development projects. If the project is successful, the vaccine will be distributed proportionally to the remaining countries. COVAX was established with the aim of distributing 2 billion doses of vaccine to countries by the end of 2021.

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Tarah Nguyen