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COVID-19 vaccine could be available by year-end: WHO chief scientist

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COVID-19 vaccine could be available by year-end: WHO chief scientist COVID-19 vaccine could be available by year-end: WHO chief scientist classical Soumya Swaminathan | File

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Friday said the vaccine for coronavirus will be ready in another 12-18 months. The UN-run health organisation might require funding of up to $18.1 billion to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021.

UK-based AstraZeneca is leading the vaccine race, followed closely by the US-based pharmaceutical major Moderna. AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate was developed by researchers at Oxford University. It will protect from the disease for a year.

Currently, more than 200 vaccine candidates are at different stages of development and 15 have reached human clinical trials, Swaminathan said. “They have advanced into phase 2 trials and are planning phase 3 in many countries. Moderna also has plans to go to phase 3 of clinical trials by mid July. However, until we see results from clinical trials, the efficacy and safety of these candidates remains unknown. Hence, this underlines the need to invest in clinical development of multiple vaccine candidates and maximising chances of success,” Swaminathan was quoted as saying in a report by The Indian Express.

Swaminathan said, “at the moment, we do not have a proven vaccine but if we are lucky, there will be one or two successful candidates before the end of this year." WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that making the vaccine widely available will be a challenge as it will require political will.

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