Dampening hopes of a possible vaccine arrival by the end of the year yet again, the World Health Organisation has claimed there will be no expectations of widespread vaccination against Covid-19 until the middle of next year.
WHO, spokeswoman Margaret Harris had said earlier this month, “None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a “clear signal” of efficacy at the level of at least 50% sought by the WHO.” She further stressed the importance of rigorous checks on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, in order to ensure that there isn’t an anomaly.
On Sunday, WHO’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan reiterated the statement, furthering the possibility that mass vaccinations for COVID-19, will not be likely before next summer. In her address, Swaminathan said the ideal vaccine candidate would protect at least 70% of those who are vaccinated, but that a minimum standard is 50%. “By the time people start getting the vaccine … it would be somewhere in the middle of 2021,” she stressed.
According to the top scientist, the ideal vaccine would require only one shot and last for several years. The closest candidate that matches this criterion as of now, is the Johson & Johnson vaccine which is a single-shot jab, unlike the two-shot developments made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Astra Zeneca. Considering the fact that a two-shot vaccine would be terribly cumbersome to take to each and every citizen, it has been speculated that a one-shot jab would prove to be easier to administer in countries with a high population density.
Most of what she Swaminathan said on Sunday parallels predictions made by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top U.S. experts. As of now, Moderna has initiated phase-3, or late-stage, clinical trials in which 30,000 participants are said to be tested. The company plans to seek emergency authorization from the FDA, even before a probable first half of 2021 date.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson became the fourth company to initiate a global phase-3 trial. The company plans to enroll up to 60,000 volunteers across three continents and will study the safety and efficacy of a single vaccine dose versus placebo in preventing COVID-19. If proven to be safe and effective, the first batch of the vaccine should be available for emergency use in early 2021.