Developing a vaccine against Covid-19 is currently the most pressing challenge the world faces, and such an enterprise may require funding of up to $18.1 billion to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021, World Health Organization chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday.
Over 200 vaccine candidates are at different stages of development and 15 are in human clinical trials, Swaminathan said, adding that there is a hope that vaccines will be ready in 12 -18 months.
Addressing a virtual media conference, Swaminathan said that commitments from high-income and upper-middle-income countries were needed to procure 950 million doses through the COVAX Facility and to ensure that vaccines can be delivered at the greatest possible speed. Responding to queries on leading vaccine candidates, Swaminathan said AstraZeneca has the largest global commitment and was the leading candidate in terms of timing.
“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 later told The Indian Express.
The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine is the first to enter the final stages of clinical trials. The vaccine is also being trialled in South Africa and Brazil, with Serum Institute of India investing $100 million to mass produce one billion doses for India and other low- and middle- income countries.
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