WTO lists critical inputs for COVID-19 vaccines to address gaps in global supply

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/solarseven
© GettyImages/solarseven

Related tags: Vials, stabilizers, WTO, Single-use bioreactor, lipids

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat has published a list of critical inputs for COVID-19 vaccines as part of an effort to address gaps in global production and distribution of the products.

Officials at the WTO Secretariat prepared the list to inform talks at its COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chain and Regulatory Transparency Symposium in late June. A version was released for consultation after the event.

The document lists the wide range of products that are needed to make COVID-19 vaccines and get them to the public. On the manufacturing side, the list covers the active ingredients for vaccines from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, noting that the latter two products use “nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2.”

Consumables and equipment required for production 

A long list of inactive ingredients is also included by the WTO Secretariat, as is a breakdown of the other ingredients such as preservatives, adjuvants and stabilizers that are used in the four vaccines.

The list features details of the consumables and equipment required to make the vaccines, too. For example, the list states that single-use bioreactor bags are needed for cell culture and fermentation and microfluid and nanofluid mixers are required to produce the lipid nanoparticles that are used in the delivery of mRNA vaccines.

Dry ice, vials and stoppers 

Finally, the list covers the products needed to get vaccines from manufacturing plants and into the arms of people. The list ranges from vials and vulcanized rubber stoppers, to dry ice for storage and adhesive bandages to put on the injection site after administration of the vaccine.

The list is the product of multiple organizations. The WTO Secretariat said the Asian Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Customs Organization, some COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, researchers Chad Bown and Chris Rogers, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and DHL jointly produced the list. 

In disclosing the list, the WTO framed the project in the context of the need to find “practical solutions to scale up the global COVID-19 response and address gaps in the global production and distribution of vaccines​.”

The WTO is continuing to work on the list, describing the current version as “purely indicative and subject to further clarification, modification and improvement based on inputs by pharma and customs experts​.”

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