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Laboratory africa

Supply chain

How Toyota’s approach to making cars can aid vaccine production in Africa 

IbyIMD+ Published 15 March 2022 in Supply chain • 5 min read

As African countries seek to ramp up production of COVID-19 vaccines, they are running into several obstacles including supply chain and quality control issues. Could Lean Thinking, a manufacturing ethos developed in car factories, help local vaccine manufacturers up their game at this critical time?


The scramble to secure vaccine supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic has stress tested the global pharmaceutical supply chain.  We’ve already seen how failures related to supply and quality issues can have very grave consequences in this industry. Earlier this year, for example, Johnson & Johnson had to dump 15 million doses of its one-shot vaccine after a batch produced in one US factory failed quality control checks.

Such incidences are all the more important to heed as developing countries aim to set up their own production facilities. Vaccination rates in Africa still lag well behind other parts of the world. By September this year, countries on the continent had managed to vaccinate only 3% of its 1.2 billion people, compared to vaccination rates of 50% in Europe, 44% in North America, 32% in Asia, and 33% in South America.

One reason for this is that Africa is able to manufacture less than 1% of all the vaccine shots administered on the continent. It has had to rely largely on donations and, some argue, unused stock from wealthy countries. It also leaves poor countries vulnerable to exploitative pricing.

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