Will the new crown pneumonia epidemic end early next year? Recently, some WHO officials made such optimistic predictions. To fight the epidemic, vaccines are critical. In the past few months, the issue of vaccine supply and distribution has been the focus of public opinion. At the end of last month, the “vaccine war” between the UK and the European Union stunned the outside world. Not long ago, a US official bluntly stated that before the vast majority of Americans have completed their vaccination, they will not donate vaccines to any impoverished country. These highly conflicting images on the one hand reflect the selfishness of rich countries in Europe and the United States robbing vaccine resources, and on the other hand they reflect the serious shortage of vaccine supply. Globally, what is the pattern of new crown vaccine production? What are the main production bases?
Vaccine production, a very “Belgian” business
If there is no new crown pneumonia epidemic, the small Belgian city of Pierce with 17,000 residents should continue to be unknown. Even in Belgium, it is only known for a strong beer-Duwei beer. But now, Pierce is a focus of the world, because it is one of Pfizer’s major global production bases for the new crown vaccine.
At the end of last year, the peaceful life of the residents of Pierce was broken. Reporters from all over the world came here. Numerous cameras and cameras were pointed at it. Some media even exaggeratedly called it “the small city that will save the world.” The residents of the small city also became interviews. Object. Although Pfizer is an American company, the first batch of Pfizer’s new crown vaccine was produced here and then shipped to the UK. The Pierce plant mainly supplies markets outside the United States, especially the European Union, but also Canada. 3000 workers are producing the new crown vaccine day and night.
“The new crown vaccine coming out from here will make people believe that the day when the epidemic is completely over will not be too far.” Faced with media footage, the residents of Pierce are quite proud. Some reporters are also wondering whether the Pierce people can “get the month before the water tower”-get the vaccine earlier, but they didn’t. In order to thank Pierce for his contribution, the Belgian government symbolically chose a nursing home near Pierce and a nursing home in the Brussels-Capital District and Wallonia on the first day of vaccination. They were the first to be vaccinated at the same time.
In order to significantly increase production capacity in the second quarter, Pierce’s Pfizer plant is undergoing expansion and transformation. Because of this transformation, the recent reduction in the number of vaccines supplied to the EU has caused the world to look again here. Pierce Mayor Van Den Heuvel has also become a frequent visitor to media interviews and reports.
In addition to Pierce’s factory, in late January, AstraZeneca triggered a European-British vaccine war due to the announcement of a delay in supply to the European Union. This dispute is also related to Belgium, because it is the problem of AstraZeneca’s vaccine production base in the country, the Novartis factory in Senev, a suburb of Brussels. Novartis is a French pharmaceutical company and part of AstraZeneca’s vaccine production chain.
Due to the global urgent need for a new crown vaccine, the shock caused by these two “production accidents” is not uncommon, and it also surprised the world to discover that Belgium’s status is so “critical”. reporters also felt this way in Brussels. According to the reporter’s understanding, Belgium is actually developing its own vaccine. The Vaccinology Center of Leuven University in Belgium is trying, but the overall independent research and development speed is too slow, and its role as an important base for the production of new crown vaccines is obviously more prominent.
Belgium has become a new crown vaccine production base, which is related to the development of its pharmaceutical industry. Take Pierce as an example. It is a major pharmaceutical industry. Pfizer, Novartis, Alcon, etc. all set up factories here, resulting in a local unemployment rate of only 3%. Pierce is the epitome of Belgium’s huge pharmaceutical industry. As a world-renowned vaccine producer, in addition to Pfizer and AstraZeneca, the core of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine department is also in Belgium, with more than 9,000 employees, making it the world’s largest industrialized vaccine production network.
Well-known pharmaceutical companies such as Janssen, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline have a long history of development in Belgium. This is to a large extent thanks to a large number of Belgian pioneers in the pharmaceutical field: Paul Janssen, the founder of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the current Johnson & Johnson The company’s chief scientific officer, Paul Stoffels, the discoverer of the Ebola virus, Peter Piot, the head of Oxford University Hospital Bruno Holsoff, and Jean Stefan, the chairman of the supervisory board of the “cure” vaccine company Wait. For a country with a population of just over 11 million, it is not easy.
Belgium’s unique geographical location is also a factor. Brussels is known as the “Crossroads of Europe”. Brussels Airport is a temperature control compliance site recognized by the Center of Excellence of the International Air Transport Association Pharmaceutical Logistics Independent Verification Agency. The cold chain warehouse is 30,000 square meters and is the largest pharmaceutical storage warehouse in Europe. Before the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, 20% of the world’s vaccines were transferred here.
Because of this, the US “Politics” News (European edition) commented that for Belgium, the production of vaccines is “a very Belgian business.” According to data from the World Bank, in 2019, the country with the highest export value of human vaccines in the world was Belgium, which reached 9.385 billion US dollars, accounting for about 30% of the total export value. The second to sixth are Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy. India is seventh and China is sixteenth.
In the field of pharmaceutical production and research and development, Belgium leads the world, and its biopharmaceutical industry accounts for 16% of the total European biopharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical industry is the industry with the largest proportion of R&D investment in Belgium. Not only the pharmaceutical industry, according to data from the Belgian Federation of Chemicals and Life Sciences (Essenscia), the Belgian chemical and life sciences industry is Belgium’s largest export industry, and two-thirds of the world’s top chemical companies choose to invest in Belgium.
According to data from the European Federation of Innovative Medicines Industries, the total employment in the pharmaceutical industry in Belgium accounts for 4.9% of the total employment in the pharmaceutical industry in EU countries, the total production accounts for 3.6%, and the export accounts for 14.4% of the EU’s total pharmaceutical exports. ▲
The pattern dominated by the Big Four in Europe and America is changing
According to data from the German Association of Research Pharmaceutical Companies, the largest global vaccine production base in 2019 is Europe, with 76% of vaccines coming from here. North America ranks second with 13%, Asia ranks third with 8%, and other regions only 3%. . Moreover, large western vaccine companies concentrate 71% of their industrial vaccine research and development in Europe. For many years, global vaccine research and development and production have been led by Pfizer, Merck & Co., Sanofi in France and GlaxoSmithKline in the United Kingdom.
However, a domestic immunology expert told that due to the epidemic, the vaccine production pattern has changed drastically, and many “new people” have been added, and Pasteur and Merck have both withdrew from the development and production of the new crown vaccine. Some new enterprises have appeared abroad, and the proposed routes are also innovative. If the new crown vaccine is successful, the entire medical industry will undergo earth-shaking changes, which will have a great impact on traditional vaccine companies, especially several large international production companies.
In Europe, in addition to Belgium, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries have new crown vaccine production bases. For example, Modena’s factory in Switzerland supplies countries outside the United States. AstraZeneca’s new crown vaccine is mainly in the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands. produce. Not long ago, EU leaders discussed the expansion of vaccine production with Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies. The number of cooperative production partners of German pharmaceutical company Biontech in Europe has increased from 3 to 13, and there are many new crown vaccine production bases in Germany. Up to a dozen. France is also accelerating the pace of production.
In the United States, both Modena and Pfizer expressed their views on continuing to expand production capacity. The former will double the new crown vaccine production to 40 million doses per month by April, and the latter will increase from four to five million doses per week to 13 million doses by mid-March. Pfizer’s largest COVID-19 vaccine production plant in the United States is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and there are two other plants in St. Louis and Andover, Massachusetts. According to US media reports on the 20th, Pfizer has added a plant in Kansas into the new crown vaccine production network.
Outside of Europe and the United States, China and India’s production capacity is of great concern. “There are 18 companies in my country that are stepping up the production of new crown vaccines. It is estimated that domestically produced new crown vaccines may exceed 2 billion doses by the end of this year. As more companies complete clinical trials and get approved for marketing, the total production capacity will be More than 4 billion doses.” Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association. According to estimates of the global population and average vaccination coverage, this production capacity can meet more than 40% of the global demand for new crown vaccines.
Feng Duojia said that my country has a large population and a wide variety of diseases, and implements the basic national policy of prevention. Therefore, the goal of vaccine development is mainly to meet the needs of the country’s public health and epidemic prevention. Although the number of vaccines exported to the international market has increased year by year, the international market is not The main expansion goal. However, the sudden emergence of the new crown epidemic forced Chinese vaccines to assume the responsibility of global public health products. Such high-speed R&D and ultra-large-scale production and supply are the first time in the history of China’s vaccine industry.
India currently has six vaccine manufacturers participating in the development of new crown vaccines, of which the Indian Serum Institute in Pune, Maharashtra is the largest. In terms of production and sales doses, the institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. The research has a 53-year history, 7,000 employees, and an annual output of 1.5 billion vaccine doses, 80% of which are for export.
The Indian vaccine industry is known for its large output, high speed, and low price. According to statistics, the Serum Institute of India provides a total of 20 vaccines to 165 countries, with an average price of about RMB 3.5 per dose, which can be said to be the cheapest vaccine in the world. There are reports that the Serum Institute of India plans to provide the government with a new crown vaccine at a price of around 1,000 rupees (about 93 yuan) in India. Cost and productivity advantages are also an important support for the Indian government’s vigorous vaccine diplomacy.
However, recent incidents at the Serum Institute of India have continued. First, a fire broke out on January 22, killing 5 people. On February 8, AstraZeneca halted clinical trials of the new crown vaccine, but the Serum Institute of India said on the 9th that it would continue, causing controversy. Next, South Africa asked the Serum Institute of India to withdraw its 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine issued in early February. ▲
More countries produce locally and are self-sufficient
“The new crown epidemic is changing the global vaccine production pattern.” German News TV said that the epidemic is strengthening the vaccine production network of various countries. With the successful research and development of a variety of vaccines, China is expanding its vaccine production network. Countries such as India are also increasing production. Although Europe still has advantages in R&D and production, the share of Asian vaccine manufacturers in the world will increase significantly.
In Asia, South Korea also has a strong vaccine production capacity. On February 24, the first batch of AstraZeneca’s new crown vaccine produced by South Korea’s SK Biopharmaceutical Company was delivered and shipped to all parts of the country. According to Yonhap News Agency previously reported, AstraZeneca and Novavax of the United States signed a contract for vaccine production with the company.
In fact, there are still many capable countries that are accelerating the on-site production of vaccines. In addition to continuing to develop domestic vaccines, Japan’s production base in Kobe is preparing to start supplying at least 90 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine next month. Canada and Novavax have reached an interim agreement to produce millions of doses of new crown vaccine candidates at a plant in Montreal, Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said that he plans to return vaccine production to the country in the next few decades to achieve “self-sufficiency.” The governor of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, said on February 23 that the Butantan Institute will start producing the new crown vaccine on its own in December this year. The UAE plans to start producing the new crown vaccine this year, not only to meet local demand, but also to supply globally.
It is worth mentioning that Russia has performed well in this vaccine race. There are several pharmaceutical companies in Russia responsible for the production and supply of domestic “Satellite-V” vaccines, while overseas orders for more than one billion doses of vaccines rely on foreign factories. According to reports, the Russian Direct Investment Fund responsible for overseas distribution has signed contracts with more than a dozen foreign manufacturers, and factories in China, South Korea, India and Iran will produce the “Satellite-V” vaccine that can be exported to third countries, such as Brazil and Serbia. The vaccine produced in China will mainly meet its own needs.
On the whole, the distribution of vaccine factories and production lines around the world is uneven. According to the global vaccine production capacity distribution map produced by the non-profit think tank “Third World Network”, the United States has more than 40 vaccine and biopharmaceutical production facilities that belong to contract manufacturing organizations, while the EU and the United Kingdom have about 60. Even if there are vaccine factories in many countries around the world, not every vaccine factory can produce all the company’s vaccines. Take Pfizer as an example. Its best-selling 13-valent pneumonia conjugate vaccine is only produced in a factory in Ireland.
A report by GF Securities last year stated that since the production of the original solution is the core business secret of vaccine companies, the production base of the original solution is generally located in the headquarters of the vaccine company or established in a market that is more important to the vaccine company. However, the post-processing steps such as the sub-packaging of vaccine preparations have relatively low technical requirements. For cost considerations, superimposed vaccine companies often choose to establish sub-packaging preparation production bases in other suitable countries and regions around the world. For example, Sanofi Pasteur has 12 vaccine production bases around the world, but there are only 4 stock solution production bases, and the other 8 are preparation packaging production bases.
Du Heng, senior project officer of the Gates Foundation, previously wrote that the cost of building a vaccine plant is about US$50 million to US$700 million, depending on different configuration requirements. According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Defense, a plant with a 25-year lifespan that can produce 3 vaccine products has a full cycle cost of approximately US$1.56 billion, and it generally takes 7 years for design, construction, acceptance and production preparation. Pfizer’s vaccine plant in the United States cost 600 million US dollars and took 5 years to build.
“In the past few decades, there has never been such an urgent and massive need for vaccines in the world.” Hui Aimin, senior vice president, global R&D president and chief medical officer of Fosun Pharma, told that in the past, vaccines were mainly Preventively, some high-end technology Western countries have mastered it early and have a large market share. In the past, vaccine production has also been localized, but there have been more changes during the new crown epidemic. The epidemic requires continued expansion of vaccine production capacity. Where there is production capacity, we should do everything we can to expand production capacity and seek international cooperation.
Because it is related to life, economy, politics and society, more and more countries are investing in vaccine production. However, after the epidemic, the vaccine production network is estimated to change again.