New COVID-19 vaccines are flooding our feeds, but are any of them manufacturable at scale?

We’re bombarded every day with news about the latest miracle vaccine candidate: when it will be available, which vaccines have reached clinical trials, the stock market performance of the manufacturers, and so on.

But four critical questions are not adequately discussed:

  1. Can any of these vaccines be manufactured at scale?
  2. How often do people need to be vaccinated… annually? Every 6 months?
  3. Who gets the first 100 million doses? The first billion?
  4. How do we reliably distribute these doses? Can we?

Manufacturing and distributing billions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be one of the biggest logistical challenges in history.

Because I’m in the midst of building a vaccine company (COVAXX), I’m thinking about these issues and closely tracking the industry on a daily basis. It’s an understatement to say that there are a lot of challenges ahead.

In this blog, I want to address the four challenges listed above, give you a quick overview of what my own company COVAXX is doing, and provide an overview of the other players. Ultimately, I’m hoping that many will succeed. We need them all.

Let’s dive in.


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My disclosure: I’ve personally been working on COVAXX non-stop since March. 

While I normally focus on a half-dozen companies (XPRIZE, Singularity University, BOLD Capital, Abundance, FutureLoop and more), the magnitude of COVID-19 and the power of this vaccine is so compelling, that I’ve put almost everything else on hold to get this technology to the finish line…

Here are four of the roadblocks to manufacturing and distributing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

  1. Having an ability to scale -- fast!

We need 4.4 billion annual doses to vaccinate adults worldwide. That number will increase if we also have to vaccinate children. And it will increase further if more than one dose per adult is required. (Note: Most scientists believe that two doses per adult will be needed, a primary and a booster shot some weeks later.)

Meeting this challenge will likely require the combined output of several vaccine manufactures over the next 12-18 months.

Several of the top vaccine candidates, including the AstraZeneca / Oxford partnership, Moderna, and Pfizer, have committed to producing at least 100 million doses in 2020. Additionally, each company has pledged to produce at least 1 billion doses in 2021.

COVAXX has also committed to producing 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by early Q1 2021, and 1 billion doses by the end of next year.

But plans are not enough. Execution of these goals is essential for our collective success.

  1. Using a commercially proven manufacturing platform

One major concern is the fact that several of the leading vaccine candidates rely on manufacturing platforms that haven’t yet been commercially proven, meaning that the vaccine has only been manufactured in small doses thus far.

For example, Moderna’s and Pfizer’s mRNA-based vaccine is based on a technology platform that has never been approved for human use. We don’t know if the tech can reliably be scaled to handle hundreds of millions and eventually billions of doses in the timeframe we need.

One major advantage that COVAXX is offering the world is proven manufacturing. The same technology platform being used to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine already produces >500 million animal vaccines per year, and has produced over 5 billion doses in total to date. It works and it’s cheap.

  1. Ensuring that distribution is reliable

Even the safest and most effective vaccine won’t work if it can’t reach patients.

One major concern is that some of today’s top vaccine candidates (specifically the mRNA vaccines) require storage in freezers at -112 degrees Fahrenheit (-80 degrees Celsius) for the vaccine to be effective and not degrade. That means using liquid nitrogen.

That may work in a factory or a warehouse.

But most clinics, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies don’t have such sophisticated storage technology.

So how do we get these vaccines to an individual patient?

Now consider the billions of people we need to reach in remote regions and emerging economies where normal refrigeration is a problem, let alone keeping vaccines at -112 degrees Fahrenheit (-80 degrees Celsius).

In our interconnected world, an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

Again, I’m proud that the COVAXX platform uses a “synthetic peptide technology” that only requires normal (widely available) refrigeration. UBI (COVAXX’s parent company) currently distributes synthetic peptide vaccines to millions of farmers in rural China who have no special infrastructure. We know that it works, is robust, and is easy to distribute.

  1. Distributing the vaccines in an ethical way

The truth is, this will not be a winner-takes-all model. We’ll likely need multiple vaccines from different manufacturers to meet the high demand. And for this reason, I wish all of the vaccine teams great success.

But even then, there are critical questions that we’re not sufficiently discussing in the media.

Who should get the vaccine first? Healthcare workers? The elderly? What about waiters? Are corporate executives more essential than grocery store clerks?

These are some of the questions we’ll have to answer as the first vaccines become available.

To address these questions, COVAXX was the first company (that I know of) to announce the formation of a Vaccine Advisory Working Group composed of doctors, economists, ethicists, and policymakers to help us answer these questions in an informed and ethical way.

I’m privileged to be part of such a brilliant team that’s dedicated to a singular mission: defeating COVID-19.

If you’d like to learn more and educate yourself about the industry and about COVAXX, please JOIN TONY ROBBINS & ME as we interview the Co-CEOs (Mei Mei Hu & Lou Reese) about COVAXX, the plan for manufacturing and distributing the vaccine, and much more.

A LIVE Q&A will follow the webinar.

Webinar Date: August 5th at 1pm PT / 4pm ET.

Click HERE to register for this free webinar, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Warmest wishes,

Peter

Here is a sample of several companies’ planned production of COVID-19 vaccines.

Company

# Doses (2020)

# Doses (2021)

COVAXX

100 million (Q1 2021)

~1 billion

Astrazeneca / Oxford1

>400 million

~2 billion

Inovio2

>1 million

>100 million

Moderna3

100 million

~1 billion

Novavax4

10 - 100 million

>1 billion

Pfizer5

>100 million

1.3 billion

Sanofi / GSK6

100 million

1 billion

 
 

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