COVID-19 – Day 464: The Supply Chain of the mRNA Vaccines

(E) A remarkable blog article, “exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines“, from another (software engineer) blogger Jonas Neubert on discovering and understanding the supply chain of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The article has an infinite wealth of details from the list of ingredients, the production of the DNA and RNA, the manufacturing, packaging, and distribution. You need a few hours to read the post.

This is where the key bottleneck is:

“Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) Assembly: welcome to the bottleneck of mRNA vaccine production! This is where the mRNA and lipids (see previous sections) get combined. The number of people in the world who know how to get lipids and mRNA to combine into a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) might be in the low hundreds. And the machines to do it might not be machines at all but one-off lab bench setups like the one in this Wall Street Journal article.

The problem at hand is this: How do you get the four lipids and the mRNA to combine in such a way that they form the protective sphere of the LNP, in a reproducible way? You can’t just combine all parts in your Vitamix and run the smoothie program. Well, you could, but it’s going to give you a weird smoothie and not mRNA filled lipid nano-particles. What is of the essence is precise control of molecule sizes, precise control of flow rates, and probably precise control of many other parameters.”

Note: The picture above is from the historical estate and gardens Filoli, and its current exhibition of tulips.

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Categories: Coronavirus