MEPs demanded to increase vaccine production, clarity on deliveries and insisted that pharmaceutical companies honour their contracts. MEPs quizzed CEOs and representatives of leading pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, CureVac, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi, on how to remove obstacles to faster commercialisation, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.
Vaccine production is a complex journey
Normally manufacturing vaccines is a complex journey. It takes between 6 to 36 months to produce, package and deliver high quality vaccines to those who need them. It includes testing each batch of vaccine at every step of its journey, and repeat quality control of batches by different authorities around the world.
Vaccines manufacturing is a biological process where a very high level of expertise is required. Pharmaceutical companies need to continually adapt production process to satisfy evolving regulatory demand which varies country by country. In addition, the production process is under even greater pressure as demand for certain vaccines grows, such as pediatric combination vaccines and as demand increases from the global public health community to investigate new and emerging threats. In COVID19 times vaccine productions has totally changed.
COVID-19 vaccine makers are under intense pressure to rev up production
During the discussion, MEPs asked about global technology transfers, sharing patents, and how industry intends to update the vaccines in order to keep up with emerging variants. They also grilled CEOs on how the European Medicines Agency could speed up market approval at European level. Some MEPs asked whether an EU export ban on vaccines would help Europe compared to other countries that have introduced export bans. In their remarks, industry representatives highlighted the challenge of building production capacity for entirely new and complex products, and the international nature of supply chains.
Moderna CEO details the company’s momentous vaccine production
“This was a world first: CEOs of the main vaccine manufacturers appearing before elected representatives. It’s good for transparency, and it’s good for democracy. It is crucial to regularly check accountability and commitments made. Moreover, the race to produce vaccines is intensifying and we are gearing up to use all available tools to support it. This was the point of this hearing”, said Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Chairman Pascal Canfin (Renew Europe, FR). “The European Parliament will play its role fully to win the vaccine deployment battle. The contact group put in place by the Parliament and Commission will further strengthen our role”, he added.
Pfizer and Moderna pledge a massive vaccine surge
“Today’s challenge is about how to produce extremely complex products on a scale that is absolutely unprecedented. This is an industrial challenge”, said Industry, Research and Energy Committee Chairman Cristian Bușoi (EPP, RO). “This hearing was an exercise in democratic accountability. We wanted to know where the production bottlenecks are and to have a clear picture about the industry’s commitments and obligations. But we also want to help the industry deliver the doses, because our priority is to get vaccination done”.
Pfizer: Manufacturing and Distributing the COVID-19 Vaccine
Pfizer consistently and diligently monitors the supply of our medicines. The pharma company operates one of the most sophisticated supply chain systems in the industry, with over 40 Pfizer-owned sites and over 200 suppliers globally, which provides capacity and redundancy as needed. Manufacturing and supply chain professionals have been working non-stop to ensure that the global supply of Pfizer medicines continue to be available to patients.
COVID-19 vaccine production ramps up
Developing and distributing effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19 is the most effective response to the pandemic and is at the heart of the EU’s recovery strategy. Given the importance of increasing production and access to vaccines, this hearing aimed to establish the facts and to find solutions to improve the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in Europe.
France ramps up COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing
Another objective was to have an open discussion with the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry, the Commission and other stakeholders. The debate was how to overcome impediments to speedier commercialisation, manufacturing, distribution and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines.