COVID-19 vaccine may be ready by year-end, says WHO chief
A ‘safe and effective’ vaccine against novel coronavirus disease may be ready by year-end, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. “We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the meeting of WHO’s executive board.
WHO director-general also called for solidarity and political commitment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines when they become available. “We need each other, we need solidarity and we need to use all the energy we have to fight the virus,” he said.
Nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline of the WHO-led COVAX global vaccine facility. “Especially for the vaccines and other products which are in the pipeline, the most important tool is political commitment from our leaders especially in the equitable distribution of the vaccines,” Tedros said.
The COVAX facility, led by the WHO and the public-private partnership GAVI vaccine alliance, gives access to COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development. Countries that sign on to COVAX will get access to a broad portfolio of new vaccine candidates to combat COVID-19.
Europe’s drugs regulator on Tuesday started an early review of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. Called a “rolling review,” the process will allow the European Medicines Agency to look at how the vaccine is performing in real time as data emerges from trials, instead of waiting for the drugmakers to submit everything at once.
Pfizer earlier said that it will seek regulatory approval for its vaccine as early as October. The companies have been granted fast-track review in the US.