Novartis CEO says it may take until end-2021 for Covid-19 vaccine to be available

There are about 90 vaccine candidates in clinical trials or development. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) - Novartis chief executive officer Vas Narasimhan said a vaccine for Covid-19 may only become available in the second half of next year, echoing the consensus view in much of the pharmaceutical industry.

"The ultimate way to deal with this pandemic is likely to be a vaccine against Covid-19," the CEO wrote in an opinion piece published in Switzerland's Handelszeitung on Thursday (May 14).

"That will take more time - my guess is about one and a half to two years."

While some vaccine developers have predicted limited availability of coronavirus vaccines this year, pharmaceutical executives have generally been more cautious. Researchers working on a vaccine at the University of Oxford have said their product will be fully tested by this fall.

US President Donald Trump recently announced "Operation Warp Speed", which seeks to produce 300 million immunisations by the end of this year. Mr Bill Gates, whose foundation is focusing on fighting Covid-19, has said he expects it will take somewhere between nine months and two years to deliver a vaccine.

There are about 90 vaccine candidates in clinical trials or development, Mr Narasimhan said. Novartis isn't developing a vaccine itself.

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