The global Covid-19 vaccine supply is on the verge of another major challenge, but this time from Moderna. The mRNA Biotech Company warned Friday that supply issues are forcing it to reduce deliveries to “a number of countries,” including Canada and U.K.
Moderna, which has partnered with Switzerland’s Lonza to manufacture its vaccine named mRNA-1273, blamed the reduction on deficits in its European supply chain, specifically to “human and material resources” needed to achieve its production goals.
“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is no linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses,” a Moderna spokesperson disclosed in an email interview, noting that it is keeping close contact with national governments to plan deliveries.
While the company didn’t specify the number of doses to be cut and where Canada’s Procurement Minister Anita And announced last Friday that its shipment will contain 650,000 doses this month instead of the anticipated 1.2 million doses.
Moderna also warned up to 2 million of a planned 12.3 million vaccines scheduled for delivery in the second quarter would be delayed until the next quarter, according to a report from Reuters. However, a company spokesperson also disclosed to the news agency that its planned deliveries to EU and Switzerland remain on track.
In its statement via email to Fierce Pharma, Moderna admitted that it doesn’t stockpile doses to help smooth over delayed shipments, choosing instead to “facilitate immediacy of access by shipping doses to governments as released.”
“While this does provide the most immediate access to our vaccine, this process will by its nature result in a more viable supply on a week-to-week basis,” the company disclosed.
Moderna said in a supply update Tuesday that it’s delivered nearly 132 million doses worldwide so far, with approximately 117 million of those vaccines delivered to the U.S. through April 12. At that time, the biotech noted it remained on track to deliver 100 million doses to the U.S. by the end of May, followed by another 100 million by the end of July. The company has not immediately responded to inquiries for an update on the status of its U.S. deliveries.
Moderna has previously estimated it could supply between 600 million to 1 billion doses of vaccine worldwide by the end of 2021 thanks to its partnership with Lonza. However, the Swiss CDMO’s chief warned in late January that it could take a few months to get the company’s three plants up to “cruising speed.”
The cut back estimates come as countries around the world, especially those in Europe, face crunched supply following safety concerns surrounding vaccines developed by AstraZeneca & Johnson & Johnson.