According to WHO’s predictions, any possible COVID-19 vaccines will not be widely produced and distributed anytime soon. In a statement released by WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris last Friday, “in terms of realistic timelines, we are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year.”
Dr. Harris emphasized that the world has made great strides towards developing the COVID-19 vaccine. About 6 to 9 manufacturers are already in their Phase III clinical trials. However, typical vaccine applications usually take months or years to be fully verified.
With the global COVID-19 death toll continuously rising, there is immense pressure to have the vaccine released immediately. What the WHO is wary of is the possibility of a rushed approval and production of a defective or ineffective vaccine. Pharmaceutical companies have already expressed last September 3 that they still intend to uphold the strict validation tests in place to ensure the vaccines’ safety and efficacy.
As summed up by WHO Western Pacific Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai last month, “I’m optimistic because I’ve been so impressed by the speed of development. But I’m also cautious because, even if they can really manage and develop safe and effective vaccines, the production capacity would not really meet the demand coming from the entire world.”
Focus on Response Efforts
In addressing expectant countries, Dr. Kansai stressed that “what is important is we continue to improve our response and not just hope for the vaccine.” Even after a vaccine has been validated, it will take considerable time to be distributed to every country that needs it.
Nation leaders must remain focused towards strengthening their countries’ detection and treatment strategies. Public health systems must be fully supported to execute effective COVID-19 response. As stated by Dr. Kansai, “COVID-19 is not just happening to us. We know it’s a long and difficult stretch and we will face setbacks, but we must keep trying, learning, and doing it together. How we fare is up to each and every one of us. If we make the right choice every day, we’ll come out of this as safe and as strong as possible.”
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