From zero to billions: The story of COVID-19 vaccines


The development, manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in such a short timescale is an extraordinary achievement in the history of modern vaccination.

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines approved in the EU and more in the pipeline, the challenge we face is to manufacture enough doses to vaccinate the entire world.

Vaccine production is a complex biological process that involves multiple steps and components, requiring specific know-how and equipment. Thanks to unprecedented collaborations across the research-based pharmaceutical industry, manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines has been significantly increased.

Clinical development of COVID-19 vaccines, manufacturing upscale and rolling reviews by regulatory authorities were carried out in parallel, which allowed the shortened timescale of bringing COVID-19 vaccines from the labs to the patients.

The availability of data, including the virus’ genetic sequence and knowledge from previous coronavirus pandemics, as well as unprecedented collaboration and the use of technologies developed over the last two decades, COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in record time.

Upscaling manufacturing and increasing capacity to enable vaccination of billions of people is a challenging task. With nearly 300 manufacturing and production deals for COVID-19 vaccines, such unprecedented collaboration is helping address this challenge. In addition, early investments, public-private partnerships and at-risk production are also helping tackle the challenge.

All vaccines, not just those for COVID-19, are produced according to the Good Manufacturing Practice, and 70% of the total manufacturing time is devoted to safety and quality testing. Vaccines are continuously monitored after approval to ensure their safety.

#WeWontRest until there are safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone.

Additional resources

ECDC Covid-19 Vaccine tracker
Good Manufacturing Practice
Team Vaccines FAQ (IFPMA)