A recent article published in Science in the section COVID-19: Economics, last March 12 (read HERE) evaluated the global economical losses caused by the pandemic and proposed a solution to reduce them.
The article reviews the current economic crisis and the future losses caused by the pandemic. Each month, COVID-19 kills hundreds of thousands of people and reduces the global domestic product (GDP) by billions of dollars, accumulating losses to human capital by harming education and health. The article looks at monthly harm and says that achieving widespread immunization 1 month faster would save lives and reduce economic harm.
In the authors’ opinion, investment in vaccine production by governments and international institutions in vaccines “have not been commensurate with the enormous scale of benefits, with many countries not likely to achieve widespread immunization until the end of 2022”. The high cost of vaccine production seems to have led to shortfalls in investment, with governments having underestimated the enormous economic benefits in the short and long term.
Investment in vaccine production 1 billion courses more could accelerate global immunization by over 4 months
The authors estimate that the current installed production capacity for 3 billion annual vaccine courses has a global benefit of $17.4 trillion. They propose that investing now in expanding capacity for an additional 1 billion courses (doses of the vaccine needed to confer immunity) (33% more than the initial investment) could accelerate global immunization by over 4 months.
These conclusions are based on a rigorous study of the global benefits of current vaccine immunization rates and the potential benefits of the proposed increase in production. We invite our readers to read the article in full. The authors concluded that “The enormous estimates from both exercises [in our analysis] provide a wake-up call relevant for the current pandemic—that it is not too late to invest in more capacity”, and they urge governments and international organizations “to contract with vaccine producers to further expand capacity and encourage measures […] to ‘stretch’ existing capacity (such as lower-dose regimens) and efficiently allocate courses (such as a cross-country vaccine exchange).” They say that their model focuses on production capacity because it has more economic risk and lead time, but many other measures are needed “to get shots into arms”. They continue with a business approach to the investment proposals.
Investment in vaccine production eventual delay
The study analyzes the likely delay in the projected investment. “Even assuming a lag of several months, we find that additional investment can still be extremely valuable. Adding capacity for 1 billion annual courses to the baseline 3 billion would avert $576 billion in comprehensive losses if the capacity comes online in July and $989 billion if the capacity comes online in April […] and would speed up the completion of widespread vaccination by over 4 months. Although April or July may be ambitious targets for new capacity, they might be achieved by creative ‘stretching’ measures […] or repurposing of existing vaccine capacity, if not a well-resourced effort to build new capacity.” The authors also address the need to invest in supply-chain capacity for intermediate goods needed to make more vaccines, and suggest that governments should aim to install substantial capacity even if they must pay a higher price for the marginal units of capacity in the new production model proposed.
Regarding a new investment in the production of vaccines, an article published by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on March 26, two weeks after the aforementioned article, reports on the new investments in the production capacity of AstraZeneca, BioNTech/Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines promoted by the United States and Europe (read HERE ).
In our opinion, it is an excellent initiative and we hope that further news about this new policy will appear for the benefit of our population.