31.9 million Americans have already received one or both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine — including more than 9.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated.
And now USA Today reports:
Pfizer expects to nearly cut in half the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine from 110 days to an average of 60 as it makes the process more efficient and production is built out, the company told USA TODAY. As the nation revs up its vaccination programs, the increase could help relieve bottlenecks caused by vaccine shortages.
“We call this ‘Project Light Speed,’ and it’s called that for a reason,” said Chaz Calitri, Pfizer’s vice president for operations for sterile injectables, who runs the company’s plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “Just in the last month we’ve doubled output.”
The increased speed and capacity is not unexpected, said Robert Van Exan, president of Immunization Policy and Knowledge Translation, a vaccine production consulting firm. “Nobody’s ever produced mRNA vaccines at this scale, so you can bet your bottom dollar the manufacturers are learning as they go. I bet you every day they run into some vaccine challenge and every day they solve it, and that goes into their playbook,” he said…
As soon as vials of vaccine began coming off the production line, engineers started analyzing how production could work faster and better. “We made a lot of really slick enhancements,” he said. Production is getting faster. For example, making the DNA that starts the vaccine process first took 16 days; soon it will take nine or 10. Though quality control and testing has accelerated, company officials say FDA regulations and best manufacturing practices are still being met. Along with improving speed, Pfizer also is increasing output by adding manufacturing lines in all three plants.
As the vaccine effort continues, more efficiencies are expected.
Across America a bout 20.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been administered.
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