A dozen different vaccines are already at various stages of testing, in the United Kingdom, China, the United States and other countries. This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, expressed cautious optimism that there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year or early 2021.
Several rich countries have already ordered millions of doses of these experimental vaccines. Who will be the first to receive a vaccine for COVID-19? Probably the people in the country where the first effective vaccine was developed, but there are also initiatives to take them to the poorest nations.
The United Kingdom and the United States have invested in a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and produced by AstraZeneca. British politicians say that, if effective, it will be used in their country. The United States is expected to start collecting it this fall, and it has also invested in other candidates.
Various groups, such as the GAVI vaccine alliance, are also working to buy dose for poor countries, and AstraZeneca has agreed to license its vaccine to the Serum Institute in India for the production of 1 billion doses. The World Health Organization is creating guidelines for the ethical distribution of vaccines against COVID-19.
Distribution will depend on each country. Last week, US officials said they were developing a tiered system for it. Such a system would most likely prioritize groups at highest risk for complications from COVID-19 and essential workers.
The European Medicines Agency estimated in mid-May that being “optimistic” the vaccine could be ready in a year. In recent days, Anthony Fauci, an epidemiologist at the White House, said he is optimistic that he will be by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.
Many countries await its development by the end of the year, to avoid a second wave of the epidemic with the arrival of winter in the northern hemisphere. Thus, the United States expects to distribute three hundred million doses as part of its Warp Speed operation in January 2021, that is, practically to the entire population, through financing and support to laboratories.
In China, the state pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, which is currently preparing two potential vaccines, hopes to launch them on the market between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
In Europe, where several projects are ongoing, these deadlines are also being worked on. Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, for their part, signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to supply the EU with 300 million doses.
Pharmaceutical groups repeat that the vaccines will be sold at an affordable price, even at their cost price. AstraZeneca pledged “not to profit from this vaccine,” according to its president in France, Olivier Nataf, who is asking for a price of about 2 euros ($ 2.24) a dose.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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