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At Least One Effective COVID-19 Vaccine to Be Available by 2021, But Only in Limited Quantities, Says WHO

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Oct 2020
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There would be at least one safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by 2021, although it will be available in “limited quantities” which may require priority to be given to vulnerable people and result in a delay in the immunization of healthy, young people until 2022.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO Geneva, Switzerland) chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, has warned that young and healthy people should be prepared to wait for immunization for well over a year. Speaking at a WHO social media event, Dr. Swaminathan said that despite the global efforts for developing a COVID-19 vaccine and several candidates undergoing clinical trials, speedy and mass inoculation was highly unlikely. Health-care workers and others on the front lines would be the first ones to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, followed by the elderly or sick. The WHO would work along with governments and international organizations to ensure that the people facing the highest risk receive priority for the vaccine. This means that the remaining young population who are in sound health would have to wait longer to be vaccinated.

“Most people agree, it’s starting with health care workers, and front-line workers, but even there, you need to define which of them are at highest risk, and then the elderly, and so on,” said Dr. Swaminathan. “There will be a lot of guidance coming out, but I think an average person, a healthy young person might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine.”

Separately, Robin Nandy, the chief of immunization at UNICEF, said in an interview that COVID-19 vaccines would be initially available only in small quantities that would be insufficient to vaccinate the world’s entire population.

“Vaccines are going to be available in the initial years in too small quantities to vaccinate the seven billion people we have across the globe today,” Robin Nandy, the chief of immunization at UNICEF, said in an interview. “Vaccines will arrive in dribs and drabs.”

People providing essential services such as health care and education should be among the first to be vaccinated, he said. “We have to live with the pandemic for a while, so we need these systems to continue."

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