“That is an extraordinary surge in demand for that product."
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Pharmaceutical companies around the world are racing to create the first effective coronavirus vaccine, but a strain in the supply chain for one common material could threaten their progress. Both the public and private sectors are scrambling to ensure that glass manufacturers will be able to keep up with the need for the extraordinarily high numbers of vials used to give patients shots. To properly vaccinate the population, billions of doses will be needed in a fairly short amount of time.
“That is an extraordinary surge in demand for that product, that specific piece of material,” Phyllis Arthur, BIO Vice President of Infectious Diseases, told ABC.
This possible problem underscores the tremendous undertaking that is creating a vaccine for coronavirus, and it also reinforces the fact that finding an effective vaccine will only partially solve the pandemic. Once a vaccine is created, officials will also need to not only convince people to get it, but also find an efficient way to distribute it around the globe.
“It could take up to two years to produce enough vials for U.S. vaccine needs, while some therapeutics will also require vials,” said Dr. Rick Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to ABC.
Any kind of delay would only add to the hundreds of thousands of lives already lost to the virus, while cutting corners could also put people in danger, which means it’s crucially important that governments and businesses work to solve this problem before mass production of a vaccine actually begins.
“We’re really dependent on this supply chain to remain free and available,” Genentech CEO Alexander Hardy said in a Tuesday press conference. “I intersperse my day, in between helping my kids with their homework, with calls to legislators and policymakers because this supply chain topic is really a critical one right now.”