COVID-19

Adar Poonawalla Warns Of Delays In Vaccine Production As US Prioritizes Pfizer

New Delhi: The head of the world’s biggest vaccine maker and the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said manufacturers of coronavirus shots face a global shortage of the raw materials needed to churn out the inoculations.

Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive officer of the Serum Institute of India Ltd. — which is licensed to produce hundreds of millions of Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc. — told a World Bank panel on Thursday that a U.S. law blocking the export of certain key items, including bags and filters, will likely cause serious bottlenecks. Soumya Swaminathan from the WHO added that there were shortfalls of vials, glass, plastic and stoppers required by those companies.

“The Novavax vaccine, which we’re a major manufacturer for, needs these items from the U.S.,” Poonawalla said. “If we’re talking about building capacity all over the world, the sharing of these critical raw materials is going to become a critical limiting factor — nobody has been able to address this so far.”

Those supply disruption concerns have arisen after the Biden administration announced plans to use the Defense Production Act to boost supplies needed to make Pfizer Inc.’s vaccines.

Last year, Pfizer scaled back its production targets after the U.S. drugmaker ran into difficulties securing all the materials it needs to produce the vaccines at a large scale, a reminder that the world is depending on mass manufacturing at an unprecedented speed and scale to end the pandemic.

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