Tl;dr: we have enough supply to vax the world before the end of 2021.
I hear a lot of people being very concerned about the global supply, worried that it will be multiple years before we have enough doses to vax the world.
I think there is a really good chance that we will vax the whole world by the end of the year (well, to the 60% or 70% level, which will probably be as good as we can get).
The rest is details of how I worked out the numbers. Note: I drew heavily on the New York Times’ vaccine tracker page, it’s excellent.
The world has 7.7B people, let’s assume two doses for simplicity, and assume 60% vax rate. That means we need 9.2B doses. We’ve already given more than 2.3B doses, so we’re already a quarter of the way there! (That surprised me. I had kind of thought we were like 10% of the way there. My spouse guessed 5%.)
I’ve done some looking at what companies say they are going to make in 2021, or what other people estimate they will make. These numbers are too optimistic, certainly, but they give a sense of the scale of production.
For some producers, I couldn’t find production numbers. Some are new enough that they clearly don’t have any idea. (I made a SWAG at Sputnik V, which has incomplete and contradictory information.)
In the table below, I classify vaccines into four groups:
- “now”, meaning a vax is going into arms and has published a phase 3 trial. (Note: Some of these started going into arms before the Phase 3 study was published, but they have since published the results.)
- “sketch”, meaning that it’s already going into arms, but the clinical trial results have not been published, or were published in Russian an obscure journal that only three libraries in the world subscribe to. (<- I am exaggerating, but only very slightly.) Note: Sputnik V has serious quality control issues, but by my definition, I need to put them into “good”.
- “soon”, meaning that the Phase 3 trials are over, and they are writing up the reports and/or waiting for approval. (All of them are likely to get approval, in my opinion. You don’t continue your Phase 3 trials if your vax sucks, and Phase 2 demonstrates safety.)
- “later”, meaning that the Phase 3 trials are underway right now, and some relatively large fraction of them will get approval, probably in Q3. There won’t be a lot of vax that they will deliver in last quarter of the year, but there will be some.
|have estimate||unknown||total with estimate|
|good||Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, AZ, Sputnik V, Covaxin, Abdala||Shenzhen Kantai/KCONVAC||7.8B|
|sketch||CoronaVac, Sinopharm, Soberana, CanSino, QazVac, EpiVacCorona||Sinopharm-Wuhan||8.3B|
|soon||Novavax, CureVac, Zydus||0.87B|
|later||Corbevax, Sanofi, VLA2001, COVIran||AnGes, West China Hospital||0.7B|
This adds up to 17.7B of vaccine supply in 2021 for just the vax I could find production estimates for.
Now, I presume that some of the manufacturers are overly optimistic and some are just flat-out lying, but they would have to be lying by an awful lot to not reach 9.2B. There’s almost twice as much vax as they say is going to be produced than we need.
Speaking of supply, Trudeau pledged to give 100M doses to the rest of the world.
I posted recently that COVID-19 might cause diabetes. Not so fast: this article suggests that it might just be that people with undiagnosed diabetes finally got seen my a healthcare system enough to notice.
Here’s a mass-media article about supertasters being less susceptible to COVID-19. I mentioned this fact already, but this is a nice article for the lay reader. (Disclaimer: I’m a supertaster and so personally probably excessively interested in something that might actually be a benefit of supertasting for a change.)