The World Health Organization (WHO) expects that this year hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines may be produced and that 2 billion doses will be available by 2021, the agency’s team director team said on Thursday, Soumya Swaminathan.
The WHO is drawing up plans to decide who should receive the doses first once a vaccine is approved, he said.
Priority should be given to workers who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, such as doctors, people who are vulnerable due to their age or basic diseases, and those who live in spaces with high risk of transmission, like prisons and nursing homes.
“I am hopeful, I am optimistic. But developing a vaccine is a complex task, it comes with a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “The good thing about this is that we have many vaccines and platforms so that even if the first fails, or if the second fails, we don’t lose hope, we won’t give up.”
About 10 potential vaccines are currently undergoing human clinical trials, and doses to protect populations from infection are expected to be available in a few months.
Many countries have already entered into agreements with pharmaceutical companies to order doses, even before their formulas have proven effective.
Swaminathan said his expectation that hundreds of millions of doses will be available this year is optimistic and that the prospect of 2 billion doses on the market by 2021 faced major obstacles.
He added that the genetic analysis data collected so far has shown that the coronavirus has not yet mutated into forms that can alter the severity of the disease it produces.