GAO highlights COVID vaccine supply chain, drug transparency issues | CIDRAP

Problems scaling up for mass production

The report details the challenges of scaling up mass production of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, including needing to add new manufacturing capacity—or shift capacity from other products—because most was already in use before the pandemic.

Even when large quantities of vaccines and drugs are manufactured, they must be sealed in sterile containers in finish-fill facilities, the current scarcity of which could lead to production backlogs. Supplies of products needed for this process, including glass vials and syringes, are also limited.

The report cautions that manufacturing supply chains may struggle to keep up with demand because of coronavirus-related disruptions such as changes in worker availability, fluctuating demands for certain products, and some countries’ export restrictions.

“For example, officials at one COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing facility told us that they have experienced challenges obtaining materials, including disposable reactor bags, reagents, and certain chemicals,” the report states. “They also said that due to global demand, they sometimes must wait 4-12 weeks for items that before the pandemic were typically available for shipment within one week.”

Source: GAO highlights COVID vaccine supply chain, drug transparency issues | CIDRAP