“It was probably the greatest global collaboration of the scientific community in human history” - Juan Andres, Chief Technical Operations and Quality Officer of Moderna
After Covid, there’s a real can-do optimism in the industry.
You could see it in how people talked and the innovative ideas they shared.
Two and a half years ago, companies who believed they could help fight Covid threw financial caution to the wind and achieved something previously thought impossible.
Using previously fringe technologies they produced new treatments at a speed and scale that would have been laughed out of any major pharma company only 3 years ago.
Unprecedented as the effort and coordination were as noted in the quote above, there were no corners cut on quality or patient safety.
A lot of the speed could be attributed to the obvious criticality, the tireless work of those involved and the fact that anything mentioning Covid got bumped to the top of every queue but that wasn’t all.
Standard practices in development and manufacturing were questioned and rationalised through risk-based decisions and data as they simply didn’t have the time to accept things because “that’s the way it’s always done”.
Some examples ranged from decentralised decision-making for speed, working with regulators to understand exactly how much data was required and the simple idea of not limiting where you could ship vaccines by slapping a country-specific label on it for supply flexibility.
Learnings from Covid vaccine development may give plenty of food for thought to other companies to question their potentially over-conservative belt and braces approach which may spend too much time and effort error-proofing non-critical elements of CMC.
It'll be fascinating to watch how the innovation and cultures of the likes of BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna may spread through the industry.
No matter what, patients will be the ones benefiting most.