Capacity shortages of H1N1 vaccine

Have you been able to get your H1N1 vaccine? Probably not – it has been widely reported that there are delays in the distribution of this vaccine. The interesting question is why? Reading a bunch of articles on this topic doesn’t shed a whole lot of light. But one figure jumps out at you – as reported in WSJ (10/19/09 – Delay Undercuts H1N1 Vaccine Campaign), the U.S. government has ordered 251 doses from 5 manufacturers. The current U.S. population is just over 300 million, so they have ordered enough to vaccinate over 80% of us. To put this in perspective, the U.S. normally vaccinates about 100 million. In fact, 114 million dose of seasonal flu was ordered in addition to the 251 million does of H1N1. The two types of vaccines are made with nearly identical manufacturing processes. So that adds up to about 365 million doses of vaccines, which is at least 3 times the typical production volume.

Given that manufacturers had to more than triple their capacity, it is not surprising at all that they are behind schedule in production.  Making matters worse, the quick ramp up may have contributed to the their lower-than-hoped-for yields. 

So instead of complaining that you can’t get an H1N1 shot, maybe you should be thankful that they have been able to produce as much as they have. Given the number of deaths among children, let’s hope better news will come soon.


One Response to Capacity shortages of H1N1 vaccine

  1. Javier Guandalini says:

    There are many reasons for the delay that we had. Pharmaceutical vaccines manufacturing takes long processes which requires validation to scale. That means that for a specific vaccine or biological product, machines, processes and product are validated according to a limited capacity of production. Unfortunately, H1N1 is a new modified molecule, which forced to start most of the validation processes form scratch. Let me tell you, they made good!
    Javier Guandalini is CEO of IBO

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