WHO says Covid vaccine approval is like arriving at base camp: ‘We still have to climb the mountain’

Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergencies program Mike Ryan speaks at a information convention on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

Approving a coronavirus vaccine is solely the first step towards suppressing the pandemic as nations race to construct distribution networks to ship the doses to their populations, World Health Organization officers stated on Wednesday.

The U.Okay. earlier Wednesday grew to become the first nation to authorize the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use, paving the approach to start inoculating its inhabitants as early as subsequent week. In the U.S., Pfizer and Moderna have now utilized for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for his or her vaccines, which might be given the inexperienced mild in just some weeks.

But growing and approving a vaccine is like arriving at base camp on Mount Everest, Dr. Mike Ryan, government director of the WHO’s well being emergencies program, stated throughout a livestreamed Q&A session from the company’s Geneva headquarters.

“We still have to climb the mountain,” he stated. “It’s a great achievement, but we still have to get there.”

Once licensed, there’ll solely be a restricted variety of doses accessible, and nations will face challenges attempting to safely ship the doses to almost eight billion individuals throughout the globe, he warned. Many of the main vaccines, like these from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, require two doses at differing intervals, and Pfizer’s vaccine requires an ultra-cold storage temperature of minus 94 levels Fahrenheit.

“We need to develop more vaccines,” WHO’s Ryan stated. “We need to increase production. We need to pull the price down. We’d love a one-dose vaccine because all the vaccines so far are two doses.”

Countries will even want to “create the demand” for the vaccines amongst their populations, Ryan stated. In the U.S., White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that it might be “a real problem” to persuade some skeptical individuals to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, some EU lawmakers have expressed concern about the U.Okay.’s determination to authorize Pfizer’s vaccine.

“If you’re offered a vaccine, it’s not just for you,” Ryan stated, encouraging individuals to take time over the holidays to find out about the advantages and dangers related to vaccines.

“You’re a tree in the forest. If you don’t burn down, the rest of the forest doesn’t burn down. Your responsibility in this is not just to yourself, it’s to your community,” he stated.

Moncef Slaoui, chief science advisor for the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, informed The Washington Post in a livestream interview on Tuesday that there ought to be sufficient provide of vaccines for the international inhabitants by early to mid-2022.

However, it is going to take greater than the six vaccines the U.S. has in its portfolio to construct that provide, Slaoui stated. As of a Nov. 12 report from the WHO, 48 vaccines had been in scientific trials and a complete of greater than 200 had been underneath improvement globally.

WHO is working alongside GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, to manufacture and ship 2 billion doses of vaccine by the finish of subsequent yr.

“It’s not just the vaccines that matter, it’s vaccination,” Ryan stated. “It will be very important that we focus on that delivery part.”

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