COVID-19 Vaccine Production Calculator

By Łucja Zaborowska, MD, Steven Wooding and Dominik Czernia, PhD candidate
Last updated: May 06, 2021

Hundreds of billions of dollars lost, almost 1.5 million casualties. We all think that COVID-19 has been our guest for way too long - but what can we do about it?

The most effective way to battle this kind of an enemy is to create a vaccine against it. 💉

We've all heard of multiple companies already boasting fully-finished products - but why is that just the beginning of the journey to victory?

We created this calculator to deliver all the answers to every single one of these crucial questions. 🤓

Worldwide pandemics

Pandemic describes a situation when an infectious disease spreads rapidly among a large number of people, finally reaching populations of a few continents or all over the world.

Black plague doctor

Extremely deadly, and extremely interesting; the infectious diseases have inspired artists for centuries (no, our fascination with zombies is not a new idea at all!).


☠️ Black Plague, 14th century

Disease caused by the bacteria, spread by the rats living in places inhabited by humans. A sickness characterized by buboes (swollen lymph nodes) was mortal for over 50% of the European population at the time.

The first use of biological weapons: bodies of people infected with the Black Plague used to be thrown into cities under siege to fight the enemy from the inside.

☠️ Small Pox, 18-20th century

Had a mortality rate of up to 90% - took the lives of almost 500 million people only in the 20th century. If the patient survived, the blisters filled with pus covering their whole body would leave life-long disfiguring scars.

Fortunately, the disease was eradicated (eliminated from the earth's surface) in 1980. The vaccination program to achieve that cost over 300 million dollars!

☠️ "Spanish flu", 1918–1919

A ruthless, deadly flu that attacked mostly young and healthy people. Infected 1/3 of the world population and killed almost 100 million people.

☠️ AIDS, 1981 - ongoing

Yes, AIDS is also considered a pandemic. A disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is responsible for more than a million deaths annually!

Nowadays, people with AIDS lead normal lives, and their expected lifespan is not that different than that of a regular individual. However, lots of people discover their disease way too late! Never hesitate to get yourself tested.

Of course, this list is not full - the wide variety of diseases have haunted the human race since the very beginning of its existence. If you'd like to discover something more, take a look at this infographic or this detailed article.

🤔 What about COVID-19? You'll find out more by checking out:

Vaccine production process

Every vaccine development process consists of 6 basic stages - we will simply describe each one of them.

  1. Exploratory 🔬

    Scientists test hypotheses, ideas, or substances that can affect the virus or the bacteria - they're looking for ways to attenuate it (keep it alive, but harmless) or inactive it (kill it, or break it into pieces).

  2. Preclinical 🐁

    This phase used to be based on animal studies - fortunately, the industry is now shifting towards trials on human cells colonies in test tubes.

  3. Clinical trials 👨🏻👩🏾👱🏼‍♀️

    Actual tests on humans begin:

    • Phase 1 - tests general safety
    • Phase 2 - tests the efficacy and safety
    • Phase 3 - compares the new vaccine to the standard vaccine (if there is one), checks for any side effects.
  4. FDA review and approval 📨

    External institution checks all the trials results, safety issues, and the documentation correctness.

  5. Manufacturing ⚙️ ←our calculator focuses on this stage

    Production and distribution of the vaccine.

  6. Observation 🔍

    ...or the Phase 4 of the clinical trial.

    Researchers and doctors are recording the medical history of all the patients that received the vaccine in real life and suffered from any side effects. Sometimes it takes years to understand the potential harm of a drug/vaccine fully.

Still confused by some words used by the researchers? Check our short dictionary below:


Randomized trialThe participants of the trial were randomly assigned to different groups - nobody decided on it. Randomized trials are of the biggest value: this is the highest level of scientific evidence
Placebo-controlledSome of the patients did not get the actual drug/vaccine, but were given a placebo - a substance that doesn't affect anything.
Double-blindedNeither the patients nor the doctors knew if the certain person was getting the actual drug or the placebo. Double-blinded trials are a lot better than the open-label ones (with no blinding).
ImmunogenicityThe ability of the drug/vaccine to cause the defence reaction of the organism.

Why creating the vaccine is not enough?

The vaccine is created - what comes next? We decided to list the most critical issues that may block our struggle to combat the virus.

➡️➡️➡️

  • Production - the laboratories can produce only a limited number of vaccines per day - it won't be enough to vaccinate entire nations, not to mention the whole world. The entire process may take even years.

  • Delivery - depending on a company and its laboratories' localization, it may take some time to transport and distribute the vaccine.

  • Side effects - vaccine can be discarded at any moment of the clinical trials/further observation if the researchers conclude that its side effects are intolerable.

  • Anti-vaccine movement - and the number of people who will not want to vaccine themselves or their children. The fewer people will gain immunity, the longer we will be at risk of the disease.

SARS-Cov 2 production updates

There are currently eight vaccines in preparation that have already reached the final, III phases of the clinical trials (read more about the production process in the paragraph above).

Three of the companies competing in this race have already announced the efficacy of their vaccines:

  • Moderna (US) - 94.5%
  • Pfizer/BioNTech (Germany) - 90%
  • Oxford University/AstraZeneca (UK) - 70%

Why is it essential?

A high level of efficacy can ensure a proper level of herd immunity - a large group's ability to withstand the disease and protect the individuals who cannot be vaccinated. The efficacy level should always exceed 60%.

The mentioned vaccines will probably protect us for 22-24 months and injected subcutaneously (under the skin).

How did they calculate the efficacy of the vaccine?

Exactly how did they do it? 🤔

The researchers gave the vaccine to a large group of people. They monitored them for any side effects and measured the level of antibodies - tiny particles responsible for our immunity.

If the level of anti-COVID antibodies in the bloodstream was high enough to ensure protection from the virus, they marked that person as a positive result of the test.

  • Moderna tested its vaccine on around 30 thousand people
  • Pfizer tested their product on about 43 thousand people.
  • Oxford University also tested its vaccine on approximately 30 thousand people

Why is COVID-19 so bad?

Some people say that it's better to "get it over with" - fall sick with COVID and quickly recover.

We all know that easy recovery won't be a thing for everyone - a severe course of the disease is indeed a lottery, and young age doesn't serve as a protection. ⚠️

We know - you probably heard about it a thousand times, but let us add something more; even asymptomatic COVID may damage:

  • Your lungs,
  • Cardiovascular system, or
  • Testicles.

...and leave you with the organ impairment that may pose a threat to your health later on in life; infertility is also a possible option.

How to use the vaccine calculator?

It's even easier than it seems! Follow the steps below and enjoy the full functionality of our tool.

  1. Choose the population that you'd like to vaccinate

    It can be a country, a continent, or the entire world! You may also choose the custom option and enter a number of your choice. (your county/city population, perhaps? 😉)

  2. Pick the percentage of people you'd like to vaccinate

    Remember: for the herd immunity to work, you need to vaccinate at least 70% of the population.

  3. Decide: how long will the production take?

or

  1. Choose how many vaccines you'd like to produce in a second/minute

Enjoy your results! 🎉

As you can see, vaccine production is not a simple thing - even with the extreme and unrealistic production rates, we're unable to fulfill the demand of all the people worldwide.

That's why we need to first distribute the vaccine to the groups most vulnerable to the disease, e.g., seniors.

While we're still waiting for our remedy to arrive, let's do our part and help doctors out by social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks. 🏠 🤗 😷

Łucja Zaborowska, MD, Steven Wooding and Dominik Czernia, PhD candidate
How long does it take to produce enough vaccines for everyone?
Spoiler: probably longer than you think. 🤓

Try it yourself, and see how much time it could possibly consume!
If we want to produce vaccines for
Northern America
(select country)
United States
(select state)
all states
Tip: 💡 The United States's population is about 329,499,000 people.
and cover
% of its population
within
mos
we need to produce
vaccines /
per minute
Number of doses per person
We need to produce 881 vaccines per minute within 12 months to cover 70% of the United States's population.
Tip: 💡 Try entering the number of vaccines per second to see how many months it would take.
For the meantime, let's protect each other by social distancing, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer! 😷
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