Abstract

To overcome pandemics, such as COVID-19, vaccines are urgently needed at very high volumes. Here we assess the techno-economic feasibility of producing RNA vaccines for the demand associated with a global vaccination campaign. Production process performance is assessed for three messenger RNA (mRNA) and one self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) vaccines, all currently under clinical development, as well as for a hypothetical next-generation saRNA vaccine. The impact of key process design and operation uncertainties on the performance of the production process was assessed. The RNA vaccine drug substance (DS) production rates, volumes and costs are mostly impacted by the RNA amount per vaccine dose and to a lesser extent by the scale and titre in the production process. The resources, production scale and speed required to meet global demand vary substantially in function of the RNA amount per dose. For lower dose saRNA vaccines, global demand can be met using a production process at a scale of below 10 L bioreactor working volume. Consequently, these small-scale processes require a low amount of resources to set up and operate. RNA DS production can be faster than fill-to-finish into multidose vials; hence the latter may constitute a bottleneck.

DOI. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9010003

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