International WHO does not expect a viable Covid-19 vaccine until early next year

WHO does not expect a viable Covid-19 vaccine until early next year

Expert says that, in the meantime, the best way to combat the virus is to focus on stopping the spread




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Geneva (Switzerland) — A World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday (July 22) that researchers have made “good progress” in developing vaccines to use against Covid-19, according to a report in CNA.

However, despite a few of them already in their late-stage trials, they will not be readily available until some time early next year.

Many companies are scrambling to get the first vaccine out amidst the ongoing deadly pandemic and WHO’s Head of Emergency Programmes, Dr Michael Ryan, said that “we’re making good progress”. He added that, in the meantime, the best way to combat the virus is to focus on stopping the spread.

According to Dr Ryan, there are a fair number of vaccines that are already in Phase 3 of their trial period, and so far, they have fared well when it comes to generating an immune response, as well as safety in patient trials.

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“Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people get vaccinated,” he said.

The report also mentions Associate Professor of Epidemiology Aubree Gordon of the University of Michigan School of Public Health as explaining that there was a precautionary promise to these ongoing vaccine trials.

She said: “The results of Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 trials, have been very promising. We should definitely believe these results while acknowledging that they do not prove the vaccine is effective.”

She added: “These early phase trials address safety and whether the vaccine elicits a good immune response. The good news is that we have several vaccines that have or are moving forward into Phase 3 trials — the phase needed to prove it works for licensing.”

Meanwhile, at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, senior scholar Amesh Adalja explained that it is “hard to draw any firm conclusions” when it comes to the early trial results. However, he also reiterated: “I’m confident we’ll get a Covid-19 vaccine, just not sure which candidates will make it into people’s arms.”

Despite so much pushing and pulling from different companies either working together or against each other in the race for a vaccine, WHO wants to assure the public that it will work on a way to make sure any potential vaccines will be produced and distributed in a global capacity as well.

Dr Ryan explained: “And we need to be fair about this, because this is a global good. Vaccines for this pandemic are not for the wealthy, they are not for the poor, they are for everybody.”

The US government is already in the bidding stages, willing to pay at least US$1.95 billion (S$2.7 billion) to purchase 100 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech-developed Covid-19 vaccine, for as long as it is deemed “safe and effective”.

For the time being, Dr Ryan cautions everyone, especially the US, about the dangers of forcing schools to reopen while cases are still continuing to increase.

He said: “We have to do everything possible to bring our children back to school, and the most effective thing we can do is to stop the disease in our community.”

He added: “Because if you control the disease in the community, you can open the schools.” /TISG

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