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Limitations in COVID vaccine production mean it could take years to vaccinate entire world

Lab working to make lipid nanoparticles

DETROIT – Making enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for the entire world could take years due to manufacturing challenges.

Acuitas Therapeutics is making lipid nanoparticles, it’s a component in the Pfizer vaccine. The genetic code in mRNA vaccines are transported into human cells via the nanoparticles. They’re incredibly small, and critical to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout -- and there aren’t nearly enough of them.

READ: Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases

They’re also supporting Curevac and the Imperial College London, who have vaccine candidates in the pipeline. But they can’t make enough by themselves.

Thomas Madden is the President and CEO of Acuitas Therapeutics.

“We don’t try and do it all ourselves. We try to enable others around the globe to be able to contribute to this, to this effort ... Whenever we reach out to our companies to ask them whether they could support manufacturing of the lipid components. For example, as soon as they hear it’s to support a COVID-19 vaccine, you know, they’re completely engaged.”

Alliances are being forged in the private sector. There are calls though for more cooperation at the government level.

Greenlight Biosciences, a biotech firm in Boston, has delayed the development of their mRNA vaccine candidate so they can tailor it to the newer variants of coronavirus. Andrey Zarur is the CEO of Greenlight Biosciences.

“We are in conversations with multiple regional partners in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, North America, South America to implement those facilities. Those facilities will take roughly six to nine months to construct and then they need to be validated by local regulatory authorities.


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