Widespread COVID vaccination not expected until mid-2021: WHO

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New Delhi (NVI): The World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman Margaret Harris today said that the organisation does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year.

Harris, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety, said that none of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a “clear signal” of efficacy at the level of at least 50 per cent sought by the WHO.

“We are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year,” Harris told a UN briefing in Geneva.

“This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is,” she added.

Phase 3 trial in vaccine research is referred to large clinical trials being conducted among people. However, Harris did not refer to any specific vaccine candidate.

All data from trials must be shared and compared, Harris said. “A lot of people have been vaccinated and what we don’t know is whether the vaccine works…at this stage we do not have the clear signal of whether or not it has the level of worthwhile efficacy and safety,” she added.

Meanwhile, WHO and GAVI vaccine alliance are leading a global vaccine allocation plan known as COVAX that aims to help buy and distribute shots fairly. The focus is on first vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country such as healthcare workers.

COVAX aims to procure and deliver 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021.