The Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan, has revealed that widespread vaccination for the coronavirus disease is expected to start by the middle of 2021.
The WHO chief expressed cautious optimism over the state of the research and development process in an interview.
In her statement she said, “We have now over 20 candidates in clinical studies. So we are hopeful that a couple of them will work. It would be very unlucky if all of them fail.”
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“So if we are very practical, then we are looking at the middle of 2021 when we will have a vaccine that can be widely deployed. Of course it’s impossible to predict,” she added.
Swaminath pointed out that the global race to develop a vaccine had been the fastest timeline ever seen, while noting that there were only 3 months between the time the virus’ genetic sequence was published in January and the time the first trial began.
There have been several global efforts at the development of potential vaccines for the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO had disclosed that about 150 vaccines for COVID-19 were under development globally.
The novel coronavirus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has since spread to almost every corner of the world, with more than 14 million people infected and over 600,000 casualties. The US currently leads the world in confirmed cases, with Brazil taking up the second position.
The pandemic’s epicenter has shifted from China to Europe and right now to the Americas, especially with the resurgence of the spread of the virus. This has led to renewed lockdowns and tough restrictions on public life and travel.
Some places where the virus was brought under control are seeing an uptick in cases thereby increasing fears of a second wave of infections and a new round of restrictions.