Chairperson of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), Dale Fisher, has warned that the vaccine for COVID-19 will not be ready before the end of 2021.
Fisher termed the timeline as reasonable because Phase II and III of the trials require the vaccine to demonstrate both efficacy and safety. As of now, there are 5 Phase-I studies being carried out worldwide for ascertaining the effectiveness of the candidate vaccines.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan in December last year, GOARN always believed that Phase I studies of different candidate vaccines would be underway by May. This means a potential vaccine for COVID-19 has already been invented. The vaccine, under Phase I clinical trials, is being tested on humans to determine their safety and effectiveness, Fisher explained.
Fisher further added that the ongoing Phase I trials would offer researchers useful insights to determine whether the potential vaccine works before conducting larger safety and efficacy trials.
Responding to Trump’s statement about the coronavirus vaccine hitting the markets before the end of 2020, Dale Fisher said that President’s claim is a bit premature. COVID-19 vaccine becoming available in markets before the end of next year is impossible because there will be production and distribution challenges once all five stages of clinical trials of any candidate vaccine conclude successfully.
CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, Severin Schwan, has also expressed reservations over Trump’s statement, suggesting that the timeframe proposed by the US President is certainly an ambitious goal.
I have no doubt that as so many companies are working on a vaccine in parallel, and as we see such great collaboration with regulators including the FDA, we can actually speed up the approval of vaccines. But still, typically it would take years to develop a new medicine. Most experts agree that it will take at least 12 to 18 months until we see a vaccine that is available in the necessary quantities for patients.