The potential advantages of what experts call distribution production are general: it would be much easier to eliminate variants such as Delta if each region of the world had its own modern vaccine production center able to respond quickly to local needs. This will prepare the world better for the next epidemic and its aftermath. The Coalition for Innovation in Epidemic Preparation said regional facilities would make it possible to make shots within 100 days of the onset of a dangerous disease and stop the outbreak before the mushroom in the epidemic. Public Citizen estimated that it would take 25 25 billion and about six months to establish a network of such national hubs around the world, and if officials start today, there could be billions more doses in the world by this time next year.
The United States International Development Finance Corporation, a federal agency that funds and oversees private development projects in low-income countries, has provided at least িয়ন 2 billion in incentives to companies in low-income countries to help develop vaccines. But so far, the agency seems to have secured only fill-and-finish deals, where small companies finish and package shots made by large brand-name operations. The problem with these deals, critics say, is that the larger companies retain control over the final product, including how much is made, where and when the dosage is sent, and at what price.
The army is hindering the increase in production capacity. Factories need to be upgraded or built from scratch, and when it comes to new mRNA vaccines, efficiency is very low outside of the world’s richest countries. But by far the biggest hurdle seems to be the hurdles of the world’s top vaccine makers, who have refused to share their technology even after it was developed with public money. For example, a technology transfer center set up by the WHO in South Africa recently announced that it would aim to copy the modern mRNA vaccine. But so far, the company has not agreed to share its technology or expertise with Hub, Reuters reported. The WHO has created a similar global technology transfer hub this year, but so far no company or country has agreed to join.
Industry leaders say it will take years for outside companies or low-income countries to develop the infrastructure and skills needed to make shots themselves. They argue that quality and safety will be compromised. And so will innovation if they are forced to share their trade privacy with the world. But it is difficult not to see other motives. “What established players want is to control their profits,” said Andre Jarur, CEO of Greenlight Bioscience, a biotech company that develops mRNA technology. “They say, ‘We’ll hold on to technology, but we promise we’ll be good citizens and make sure you get what you need.’ Africa has heard it a million times before, and they are sick of it, because they know it never works that way.
It is also true that vaccines are not easy to make. MRNA shots, for example, require highly specialized equipment and hundreds of components, most of which are not made in undersourced settings. For example, a chemical capping agent that prevents the body from rejecting the vaccine’s mRNA is patented and manufactured only by one company. Even simple vaccines involve multiple companies and countries; Almost a shot is not made in just one place.
But this obstacle is not indomitable. Russia, for example, was able to transfer its technology to a number of smaller companies around the world, including the South, in just a few months, as Nature recently reported. The country’s strategy was not just to license its intellectual property, but to send its experts to those companies to show them what they could do.
Emerging technology promises to be easier. Dr. Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. Peter Hotage and his colleagues have developed a recombinant protein vaccine. It can grow efficiently in yeast cells, has no solid storage requirements and should be easy to mass-produce anywhere. Universals, a Belgian company, has created a vaccine manufacturing facility that can fit inside a shipping container and theoretically be placed anywhere in the world. (The Financial Times called it an “Ikea-style product” for the vaccine.)