AstraZeneca is confident that it can supply 5 to 6 million doses a month of its COVID-19 vaccine to Thailand as planned despite a complicated production process.
James Teague, managing director of AstraZeneca Thailand, released an open letter to Thais yesterday. “I want to assure you that for us, there is no higher priority than manufacturing vaccines that can protect you and your loved ones, as fast as possible,” he wrote.
According to Mr Teague, the AstraZeneca vaccine is a “biologic” product that starts with growing “living” ingredients. The manufacturing process is complicated. The number of doses in each “harvested” batch is never completely certain, especially in the early stages of a new supply chain.
“Even with that context, our projections show that in months with uninterrupted manufacturing we can supply five to six million doses in Thailand,” he said.
By the end of July, AstraZeneca will have delivered 11.3 million doses, as part of its overall commitment to delivering 61 million doses to Thailand. As of now, the company has delivered nine million doses, with 2.3 million to be supplied to the Ministry of Public Health next week.
“We are delivering in the fastest possible timeframe. However, given the gravity of the Delta variant, we are leaving no stone unturned to accelerate supply further still,” he said.
“Together with our manufacturing partner, Siam Bioscience, we have initiated efforts to optimise the manufacturing process and we believe that in months with good ‘harvests’, we will be able to deliver more.”
The company is also scouring the 20-plus supply chains in its worldwide manufacturing network to find additional vaccines for Southeast Asia, including Thailand.
“A global supply crunch for COVID-19 vaccines and shortages of the materials and components required to produce the vaccine, make it difficult to provide certainty today, but we are hopeful of importing additional doses in the months ahead,” he wrote.
“COVID-19 is the biggest public health crisis of our generation. We at AstraZeneca see it as our duty to help, and thousands of our employees, and those of our partners, have devoted their lives this past year to do so.
“We do this at no profit during the pandemic because we believe that’s the right thing to do.”