The Question I Want Answered

Pretty clearly the question that Pfizer and Moderna want to answer is how many doses of their vaccines can they produce by the end of 2021? That isn’t the question to which I want to know the answer. The question I want answered is how long will it take them to produce another 20 million doses?

The reason I want it answer is the effect that might have on policy. The answer isn’t obvious. It might be that they can produce another 20 million doses in 10% of the time it will take to produce 200 million. But it might be that it will take 90% of the time it will take to produce 200 million or anything in between.

11 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    I think some other vaccines must be close also. I kind of assume that they have started manufacturing so we need to add them in also.


  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Actually the answer is sort of grim in the US.

    The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has been approved in the UK/India and will be approved in the EU/Canada by the end of the month. But here in the US; due to bad blood between the FDA and AstraZeneca, and a NIH syndrome by the FDA; the earliest that vaccine can be approved is April.

    I don’t think it is understood how big an issue this is. The Government had an order of 300 million doses with Astra-Zeneca; it was to compose 50% of vaccines supplied. The reason is it is easy to produce, store and administer.

    There is also JNJ’s vaccine. It too is easy to store and is a single dose vaccine. Results should be available by the end of the month. But JNJ announced due to a manufacturing mishap the vaccine won’t be available at scale until April.

    I hope someone insist the FDA drop their unnecessary demands for US data for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is nearing distribution. J&J expects to report the Phase III data by the end of the month and apply for an EAU in February. As part of Operation Warp Speed, J&J promised to deliver 100M doses to the federal government by January 1st. Did they? And how long until its delivered to those vaccinating.

    CDC says 31M doses have been distributed, and the most recent pace that would be 40M doses in ten days. Seems like a lot of confusion because the doses are going through multiple channels: states, largest cities, pharmaceutical partners, and perhaps federal agencies like BOI, DOD, Veterans Homes, and prisons though these may be through pharmaceutical partners as well.

  • PD Shaw Link

    J&J, I was just listening to a podcast where a virologist said they promised 100M by January 1st, he appears to have misspoken, its June 1st.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Here is the article on J&J. Vaccine approval on track, manufacturing delayed.

    The key quote, “ J&J has fallen behind schedule by as much as two months and likely won’t catch up until the end of April, the Times reports.”

  • PD Shaw Link

    @Curious, yeah, I didn’t realize that until I saw your comment. Doctor presumably misread his notes (Jan. for Jun.), and I think the podcast may have been recorded before that NYTimes story.

  • The remark about J&J’s production problems highlights a point I’ve made before: although it may be true that Pfizer can produce 200 million doses by the end of 2021 and Moderna can produce 100 million doses by the end of 2021 it may still be true that Pfizer and Moderna together CANNOT produce 300 million doses by the end of the year. Yes, yes, I know they’ve committed to produce that much by the end of July. I believe in such promises when I actually see them being fulfilled rather than accepting them at face value.

    I still want to know when either Pfizer or Moderna can produce 20 million more doses.

    The same thing applies to Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J or Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and AZ. You can’t make any predictions based on their individual production estimates.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The most recent CDC distribution data (1/15/2021) has the seven-day rolling average at 1.3M doses distributed a day. And the seven-day average has been at least 1.3M doses per day since January 7th (high reaching 1.7M on the 13th). At 1.3M doses per day, it would take 15.38 days to distribute 20M doses of Moderna and Pfizer.

    Just looking at Pfizer, and assuming a 50/50 split btw Pfizer and Moderna, at that rate, they would only deliver 143.6M doses by July 31st, short of Pfizer’s commitment in Dave’s link to provide 200M doses by that date. To get to that mark, Pfizer would need to deliver 937K doses per day, about 44% higher than the current averages.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Added: I guess I have a lot of confidence in Pfizer hitting its marks because it agreed to the additional 100M after it was performing the earlier agreement to distribute the first 100M. I would be more confident if I understood the agreement, particularly what are the implications of not meeting the target?

    To make it interesting, if recent performance is at least maintained (1.3M doses distributed per day), then we should expect the CDC vaccine tracker to report a total of 50,661,075 doses distributed as of Jan. 29, 2021 at 6AM. That’s an additional 19.5M doses since Friday morning at 6AM, but since it does not appear that CDC updates the page over the weekend, that seems the closest useful point in time. I make no bets.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    You can see Pfizer’s additional agreement to somewhat see the rate.

    100 million doses by July 31; of which 70 million is by June 30. So 30% of production in the last month of 6 months.

    My understanding is Pfizer is upgrading their plants currently until Mid-Feb for increased production. And until then we should expect static to slight decrease in production.

    A concern is for vaccines are produced after mid March; it will be too late to have any effects on the current wave; given seasonality the number of cases will decline quite a bit starting in April.

    If I was King I would approve the AstraZeneca vaccine and space out the second dose like the UK. You would increase the number of people with some protection by about 300% by April.

  • Steve Link

    Only space it out for those under 75. Unlike PD I do think that at least two of the new variants are a lot more infectious so the season could be extended. Agree with AZ approval.

    Side note. The anti vaxxers and false info people are hard at work. I have been getting some emails from my staff with concerns about the vaccines that are based upon false info or true info presented in a scary way. For example, several people sent me stories about how a bunch of people have died sometime after receiving the vaccine. I have had to explain that we still have a natural death rate. The vaccine won’t stop an MI or an aortic dissection and there is no evidence they cause them either. (Fortunately these worries came from office staff and APs. ) It seems like there are whole networks of people devoted to scaring people about the vaccines.



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