There will be enough Covid-19 vaccine doses produced by January 2022 for every adult in the world to be inoculated, the leading pharmaceutical trade association has said.
Based on modelling provided by science intelligence firm Airfinity, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufactures & Associations said 12 billion shots are expected to be produced by the end of 2021 and — assuming no bottlenecks - around 24 billion by June 2022.
The latter figure may mean supply would outstrip global demand, said the association's director general, Thomas Cueni. He added that vaccine manufactures are currently producing 1.5 billion doses a month.
Speaking alongside senior figures in the pharmaceutical world, Mr Ceuni said “the news should be a game changer for vaccine equity”.
“We cannot be insensitive to the fact that so far, only about 6 per cent of Africa's adult population have received full vaccination, whereas in many of the western countries, we are at 70 per cent plus.”
He said that, even on the basis of the most conservative projections, G7 countries would have 1.2 billion surplus doses this year even if they vaccinate those over the age of 12 and give booster shots to at-risk people.
“Now if these 1.2 billion doses are shared before the end of this year, it would mark a turning point in vaccine distribution and open the way to reset for vaccine equity.”
Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer, said that next year, there should be enough vaccines for all those who want one, but a key problem will be vaccine hesitancy.
He said that in some countries, such as those in Africa, the percentage of the population that is hesitant to receive a vaccine is likely to be higher than in western countries.
Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said it was important that a mechanism was set up to ensure that surplus doses could be rapidly donated to the developing world.
“They're all thinking about how can we donate the surplus in a very effective way to the low- and middle-income countries,” he said, referring to the US, Canada and several European countries.
“That will help and assist very, very quickly, on top of the direct supplies from us to the countries.”
Under the Covax initiative, wealthier countries are able to donate vaccines to the developing world.
Mr Bourla said Pfizer was developing new vaccines tailored specifically to variants of the virus.
“We are developing a specific version, but it is tailored to Delta, but my prediction is that you will not need it.
“I think that the data will demonstrate that the current one will be highly efficacious against the other as well.”
Despite his prediction, he said the reason Pfizer was still persisting with the development of the adjusted vaccine was “because we don't want to any chances; you can’t play with human lives. Everything indicates that you will not need it, but just in case, we are making one".
Mr Bourla said Pfizer had already developed a vaccine focused specifically on the Beta variant, first detected in South Africa, which would be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval.