Coronavirus: Hot spots/vaccine

WHO's chief holds out hope for Covid-19 vaccine by end of the year

China has at least four experimental vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials, one of which is from Sinovac Biotech.
China has at least four experimental vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials, one of which is from Sinovac Biotech. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA • A Covid-19 vaccine may be ready by year end, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus did not give details, but urged solidarity and political commitment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines when they become available. "We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope," he told the organisation's executive board meeting that examined the global response to the pandemic.

The European Union's health regulator yesterday said it has launched a real-time review of a vaccine from US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, following a similar announcement for rival AstraZeneca's jab last week. The announcement by the European Medicines Agency could speed up the process of approving a successful vaccine in the bloc.

Nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline of the WHO-led Covax global vaccine facility that aims to distribute two billion doses by the end of 2021. So far, some 168 countries have joined the Covax facility, but China, the United States and Russia are not among them.

The Trump administration has said it is relying on bilateral deals for supplies from vaccine makers.

Dr Tedros said: "Especially for the vaccines and other products in the pipeline, the most important tool is political commitment from our leaders especially in the equitable distribution of the vaccines."

Meanwhile, China is in talks to have its locally produced Covid-19 vaccines assessed by the WHO, as a step towards making them available for international use, Dr Socorro Escalate, WHO's coordinator for essential medicines and health technologies in the Western Pacific region, said yesterday.

China has at least four experimental vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials - two from state-backed China National Biotec Group, and the other two from Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2020, with the headline 'WHO's chief holds out hope for Covid-19 vaccine by end of the year'. Subscribe