Watch CBS News

Inside a British facility that could mass produce a COVID-19 vaccine within weeks

Preparation for COVID-19 vaccine ramps up
Huge manufacturing drive to produce vaccines, before it's been proven they work 02:29

The number of reported coronavirus cases around the world has just topped 30 million. The World Health Organization says "alarming rates of transmission" can be seen again in Europe, which brings new urgency to the global search for a vaccine.

There are 36 vaccines for COVID-19 currently in human trials, according to WHO.
In a rare look inside a Wockhardt UK facility in Britain, CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams saw how a vaccine would be produced for widespread use.

At the facility, a sterile production line could be mass producing a vaccine within weeks. Right now, they're training staff by filling glass vials with water.

They could start filling vials with a vaccine as early as November, maybe even before a vaccine has been approved. That's because as soon as they get that final approval, they want to be sending it out to the public.

"These are unprecedented times and require unprecedented initiatives," said managing director of Wockhardt UK Ravi Limaye.

Limaye told Williams his facility can produce up to 240 million doses of a new vaccine in a year.

But if the vaccine they start producing doesn't get approved for safety, they'll simply have to throw it out.

Asked if it is a gamble to start packaging millions of doses of a vaccine before it has final approval, Limaye said, "I won't say it's a gamble. I would say this is investment in public health."

The Oxford vaccine, arguably the front-runner in the race to stop the new virus despite a recent pause in its trial, will likely be produced at the facility.

The U.S. government has given more than $1 billion to the drug company behind it, AstraZeneca, to secure at least 300 million doses.

The world's biggest vaccine manufacturer, based in India, warned this week that production isn't being ramped up quickly enough, and it could take until 2024 to produce enough doses of vaccine to cover the entire world.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.