Pfizer hopes to cut COVID-19 vaccine production time nearly in half

Virus Outbreak Seniors Mississippi
Posted at 12:33 PM, Feb 09, 2021

Just two months after getting emergency use authorization from the FDA, Pfizer says they expect to greatly speed up production of their COVID-19 vaccine, cutting production time by almost half.

In comments made to USA Today, Pfizer’s vice president for operations for sterile injectables, Chaz Calitri, said just in the last month, they have doubled output.

They hope to cut the production time for the vaccine from 110 days to an average of 60 days as they become more efficient. For context, it usually takes about six months, or roughly 180 days, to produce the influenza vaccine each year, according to the CDC.

The Pfizer vaccine is made at three plants in the U.S., starting in Chesterfield, Missouri, Andover, Massachusetts, and finishing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Calitri says manufacturing lines have been added to all three plants, in addition to other changes to make the process more efficient as they learn more. One example is that the process to make the DNA needed to start the vaccine first took 16 days, soon it will take around ten days.

"We made a lot of really slick enhancements," he told the paper.

Calitri said normally engineers would spend years improving the timeline and efficiency of vaccine production, with the COVID-19 vaccine, they “went right into commercial production” and have been analyzing the process while keeping up current production levels.

Increased vaccine production is good news for millions of Americans who are struggling to get an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and states who say they do not have enough supply to meet demand.

The CDC reports more than 59.3 million doses total of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to states, this includes either doses of Pfizer's vaccine or Moderna's.