Coronavirus vaccine will not be available this year, World Health Organization warns
* WHO cautions on school reopening
* Sees breakthrough in 2021 for Vaccine
* Says vaccines are now in phase three trials
Hopes for a coronavirus vaccine before Christmas have been dashed by a World Health Organization expert, saying the first use of a Covid-19 vaccine cannot be expected until early 2021.
Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said that several vaccines are now in phase three trials and none have failed so far in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response, Mailonline report on Thursday.
“We’re making good progress. Realistically it’s going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” Ryan said.
The WHO is working to expand access to potential vaccines and to help scale-up production capacity.
“We need to be fair about this because this is a global good. Vaccines for this pandemic are not for the wealthy, they are not for the poor, they are for everybody.”
Ryan also cautioned schools to be careful about re-opening until community transmission of Covid-19 is under control.
“We have to do everything possible to bring our children back to school, and the most effective thing we can do is to stop the disease in our community,” he said.
“Because if you control the disease in the community, you can open the schools.”
His comments come after Oxford University — one of the frontrunners in a race for a vaccine — claimed there was still a chance it could deliver its experimental jab by Christmas if tests keep going according to plan.
One of the researchers working on the project had said that people in the most at-risk groups could get the first jabs in the winter.
A vaccine is considered crucial for getting out of the coronavirus pandemic because it would be the only way to secure protection against catching it.
It would work by injecting either a tiny piece of the virus into the body — which would not make someone sick — or a clone of its DNA.
This triggers an immune response which has long-term memory, so if a person is exposed to the coronavirus in real life, their body knows how to fight it quickly.
But until a jab is proven to be safe and effective, controlling cases rely on physical distancing, regular hand washing and face mask-wearing.
Governments globally know this is not a long term solution to the disease because prevention measures and lockdowns have crippled economies.
Scientists are racing to find a vaccine that will protect millions, with 24 already being tested in humans and more than 140 in pre-clinical trials.
It comes after results from the first phase of clinical trials of Oxford’s vaccine were published on Tuesday in the British medical journal, The Lancet.
The vaccine produced a ‘strong’ antibody and T cell immune response in volunteers.
Researchers said “the early results hold promise” but added much more is still needed.
Infectious disease scientists warned “there is still a long way to go” before any vaccine is rolled out.
The vaccine — called AZD1222 — is already being manufactured by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the UK Government has ordered 100 million doses ahead of time.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the Oxford team, said she is still confident the jab could be ready for the most vulnerable people by the end of the year.
The Oxford team initially hoped it would be ready by September when they began trials in April. However, there are a number of hurdles to get through first, including proving the vaccine actually works.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Professor Gilbert said: “The end of the year target for getting vaccine rollout is a possibility but there’s absolutely no certainty because we need three things.”
Those three things are the results from phase three trials, the ability for manufacturers to produce large quantities of the virus, and regulators to approve the vaccine.