Challenges of Manufacturing and Storing COVID-19 Vaccines

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The spread of the Coronavirus, after China omitted information from the world of its existence, is far and wide. Luckily, multiple countries are partaking in the creation of a vaccine for the masses. One example is operation warp speed, a collaboration between the US government and private companies to quickly investigate, develop, and produce a vaccination for the virus.

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Much like the launch of multiple rockets into space with teamwork involving the US government and Elon Musk, the US COVID-19 vaccine project takes advantage of capitalism’s capacity to motivate and push people to act in public and private sectors. The result is a fast, efficient, and safe option for possible patients.

Manufacture Process

Different countries and entities are taking varied approaches to manufacturing a COVID vaccine. As previously mentioned, the US is prioritizing speed and safety. While it’s a very out of the ordinary methodology for the typical process, the objective is to protect the vulnerable and return to normalcy.

The First Steps

At the very start, but not the case for every country, the private and public sectors collected funds to invest in the research and manufacture process. During this phase, there was also a solicitation of candidates for clinical trials. All vaccines require testing before release to the general public in most countries.

Roadblocks

The first struggle for the manufacturing process was selecting future large-scale producers for the approved vaccine. In the US alone, the estimated goal was 100 million shots and has expanded to 200 million more for worldwide needs. 

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To ensure this as a possibility, companies like Pfizer received hefty sums for the labor. The next bump in the road was solidifying a strong relationship between entities that control medicine quality and companies that would produce the vaccine.

Distribution

It seems like the world is well on its way to achieving an effective vaccine for COVID-19. There are production plans in multiple countries, including China, the US, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Taiwan. However, the next step is quite complicated. 

While current technology provides the possibility for quick vaccine production, distributing the final product throughout the world is another story entirely.

Transportation and Storage

Most medicine can persist in average room temperatures. This isn’t the case for vaccines. Scientists say that the COVID-19 vaccine cannot survive above 8 degrees Centigrade, or 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Taking a candidate to the research labs for injection is simple, but it’s an impossible task, logistically speaking, to do the same for the billions of people on earth. The only option for providing large populations with the vaccine is to deliver them to communities.

Considering the COVID-19 vaccine’s low tolerance for high temperatures, all movement of the injections must take place with vehicles that have refrigeration units. This includes transportation via air, land, and sea. It’s an expensive endeavor and is set to slow down the distribution process.

For future safekeeping, and once most people that need the vaccine receive the necessary doses, entities will have to store the remaining units for safekeeping. This is usually accomplished with a laboratory grade freezer. Luckily, the only real concern is temperature, as other measurements are already in place to store and protect vaccines.

Legal Complications

Every country has a set of specific laws surrounding medical issues. There are even some religions that don’t permit invasive operations like abortion or blood transfusions. This is troublesome for the widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Aside from well-known and long-existing legislation, some governments have applied lockdown mandates, preventing easy and free movement for the people. Thus, agencies delivering a vaccine must coordinate with each government to facilitate distribution.