WHO: Covid-19 vaccines not earlier than 2021

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, according to a leading World Health Organisation (WHO) expert. “We’re making good progress, but realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said.

WHO is working to ensure fair vaccine distribution, but in the meantime it is key to suppress the virus’s spread, he pointed out, as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels. 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 $1.95bn to buy 100 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech if it proves safe and effective, the companies said. Ryan also cautioned schools to be careful about re-opening until community transmission of COVID-19 is under control. Debate in the US over restarting education has intensified, even as the pandemic flares up in dozens of states.

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