The researchers believe their work could enable Oxford’s ChAdOx vaccines to hit the “moonshot” objective set earlier this year by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which aims to help compress vaccine development timelines to 100 days from pathogen identification to mass production, potentially including distribution of millions of doses from manufacturing sites around the world.
The same team recently published a detailed account of its invention of a new manufacturing method and ‘franchise’ approach to distribute production of the vaccine around the world. This has enabled over 2 billion doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to be produced – more than any other COVID-19 vaccine – with the majority both made and used in low- and middle-income countries.
The paper published today highlights the speed with which it would be possible to manufacture a new adenovirus-vectored vaccine at large scale.
Dr Sandy Douglas, who leads the vaccine manufacturing research group in the Jenner Institute, at the University of Oxford says: ‘When a new virus is identified, vaccine production is a race against time. Some people think that adenovirus-vectored vaccines are slow to manufacture – and that’s just not true.’
‘The process of bulk manufacturing, filling into vials, and testing takes pretty much the same length of time for most vaccines,' says Douglas. 'The thing that can vary is how long it takes to prepare to start manufacturing. For an adenovirus-vectored vaccine, the key bit of preparation which is needed is to make a ‘seed’ virus. That’s the only thing that needs to change to make a new vaccine – so we’ve looked carefully at how to make that seed quickly. In a pandemic, saving a few days could save many lives.’