Lean Vaccine Development

Improvement Insights Blog

Lean Vaccine Development

Vaccine development companies aren’t taking shortcuts; they are using Lean to accelerate delivery of a safe effective vaccine. Here’s how:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and QI Macros [software].

“There’s been a lot of anxiety about vaccine development, like, “Oh, they’re short-cutting.” Uh, no. No, okay.

“If you know anything about Lean, you know that the original process was they did phase one trials. Then they evaluated the phase one trial and then they set up a phase two trial. So the phase two trial [is going] and and then they would evaluate all of that and then they would say, “Well, was that okay?” Then they’d set up a phase three trial, so there’s a whole bunch of delay built into the process. Then, and only after the phase three trial where they evaluated and made sure it was safe and effective did they actually go into production.

“That’s not what’s happening. Most everybody now has a lot of vaccines in development. I’m sure one’s going to come out as clear winner and we’ll see; I have no idea who that’s going to be, but they did phase one trials but while they were doing phase one trials they were planning phase two trials so that when this one worked out, phase two trial could just be ramped right up. While they’re doing phase two trials they’re planning phase three trials, and while they’re doing phase three trials guess what? If it made it to a phase three trial, the federal government is paying them to start producing hundreds of millions of doses. So in case this comes out the back end and is ready they will have it produced and be ready to go.

“So this has collapsed the vaccine development curve because there’s no more wait time. It’s not that there’s no wait between first phase and second phase and third phase and production and all this other stuff, no. We’re doing bang bang bang bang bang, and on the third phase we’re actually starting to produce some hundreds of millions of doses so we can start to vaccinate people safely and effectively.

“So if you’re having high anxiety about the vaccine thing, I don’t think you understand Lean and what is possible. So that’s what we’re doing: Trying to make a hassle-free America, hassle-free healthcare, a hassle-free society, all right?

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something.”