No widespread Covid-19 vaccination before mid-2021, WHO says
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No widespread Covid-19 vaccination before mid-2021, WHO says

Credit: Belga

The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not expect widespread vaccination against Covid-19 until mid-2021, it said on Friday, as preparations for the distribution of a vaccine are accelerating in the United States.

“As you know, a considerable number of candidates have now entered Phase 3 trials. We know of at least 6 to 9 that have already come a long way in terms of research,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris at a press briefing in Geneva.

“But in terms of a realistic timetable, we really do not expect to see widespread vaccination before the middle of next year,” she added.

Harris explained that phase 3 of the clinical trials – the stage of massive testing on volunteers – takes time because scientists need to check whether the vaccine is effective and safe.

For their part, several pharmaceutical company executives pledged on Thursday “not to cut corners” and to meet safety standards in the race for the Covid-19 vaccine, despite sometimes insistent calls to prefer speed.

However, “the good news is that manufacturers are already betting on which one is likely to be the vaccine and are already thinking about how they can increase vaccine production once we know which one will be used,” Harris said.

In the meantime, competition is racing to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

In the United States, the world’s hardest-hit country, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has “urgently” asked states to ensure that distribution centres for a future vaccine can be “fully operational by 1 November 2020,” just before the presidential election.

At the end of August, US President Donald Trump also promised a vaccine “this year” against Covid-19.

In Geneva this week, Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, explained to journalists that the organisation has worked with experts from around the world, notably from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), to “propose criteria” for the safety and efficacy of future vaccines.

The Brussels Times

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