GENEVA – Researchers are making “good progress” in developing vaccines against COVID-19, with a handful in late-stage trials, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday.
WHO is working hard to ensure fair distribution of the vaccines, but in the meantime, it is key to suppress the spread of the coronavirus, said Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme, as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels.
“We’re making good progress,” Ryan said, noting that several vaccines were now in phase 3 trials and none had failed, so far, in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response.
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“Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” he told a public event on social media.
WHO was working to expand access to potential vaccines and to help scale-up production capacity, Ryan said.
“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,” he said.
The US government will pay $1.95 billion to buy 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc and German biotech BioNTech if it proves safe and effective, the companies said earlier on Wednesday.