Story at a glance

  • The World Health Organization does not predict a vaccine will be widely available before the summer of 2021.
  • Frontline health care workers will be among the first to receive initial limited doses.

Large-scale doses of a COVID-19 vaccine most likely won’t be available to the public until summer 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday.

USA Today writes that WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan told reporters that the ideal vaccine candidate will only require one shot and last for several years.

"By the time people start getting the vaccine ... it would be somewhere in the middle of 2021," she said on Sunday.

This runs parallel to previous reports in which WHO officials have projected that widely available COVID-19 vaccine doses will not be available until mid-2021.


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The ideal vaccine candidate would protect at least 70 percent of people who receive vaccine doses, although the minimal standard is just 50 percent, the WHO said.

Details on how a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed remain murky, but several experts have advocated for the first round of doses to go to frontline workers, namely those in the health care sector. After those distributions, other essential workers would be next in line. Everyone else would receive vaccine doses in a phased approach.

A federal advisory committee reportedly convened on Tuesday and discussed vaccine distribution options, but did not offer a formal recommendation. The group, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, will convene to vote on vaccine dosage recommendations when the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine.

Multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, have produced frontrunners for a vaccine and are funded by the U.S. government under Operation Warp Speed.

The WHO has taken steps to ensure that a vaccine will be equitably distributed across the globe in a bid to prevent “vaccine nationalism” with COVAX, an initiative that counts more than 150 countries as committed to improving vaccine access. The final goal is to produce 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.


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Published on Sep 28, 2020