As we write this, more than 27 million people across the globe have contracted COVID-19, while 8,83,846 patients have already succumbed to the disease. As the world inches closer to the last quarter of 2020, people across the globe are waiting with bated breath for a coronavirus vaccine to come into public circulation and contain the spread of this highly infectious contagion.
02/7COVID cases are rising globally
With the opening of economic activities in several countries and the increasingly complacent attitude of the general public, it is no surprise that COVID cases are spiking once again. The case may be especially true for India’s capital, which had started celebrating reaching “the peak” of the pandemic, after noticing a decline in new coronavirus cases and deaths. This ‘success’, however, was shortlived as Delhi is once again witnessing a fresh wave of coronavirus cases. A similar spike in COVID cases is being noted in European countries amidst growing concern over a second wave of the pandemic.
03/7Are we getting a COVID-19 vaccine soon and will it end the pandemic?
As the world continues to battle the highly infectious disease, scientists and medical researchers are working round the clock to develop the most effective and safe vaccine for COVID-19. It should be noted that experts across the globe have repeatedly asked the general public NOT to pin all the hopes on a potential vaccine and continue practising social distancing measures. The truth is that a vaccine for coronavirus is still a distant dream, as even the top contenders in the race to develop a potential vaccine are yet to complete the critical third phase trials of their vaccine candidates.
04/7The daunting task of vaccinating 7 billion people…
The looming question is not only when a vaccine will be given the go-ahead by the regulatory authorities, but how exactly will the global distribution of these vaccines take place. To inoculate a population of 7 billion, it will take massive co-operation and understanding between the policymakers, manufacturers, production facilities and delivery mediums.
05/7When will the mass vaccination process begin?
Shedding light on the timeframe, WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said in a press briefing that effective vaccine distribution can be expected to begin by the middle of 2021.
“So realistically speaking, probably the second half, the middle of 2021 – maybe the second quarter, the third quarter of 2021 – is when we can start seeing doses actually flowing into countries so that they can start to immunize their populations,” she noted.
06/7We need to be realistic and optimistic at the same time
“We expect results from some of the candidates, which are already in Phase 3 trials, to come by the end of the year or beginning of next year, following which they’ll have to be scaling manufacturing to produce the hundreds of millions of doses that are going to be needed. In fact, the world is going to need billions of doses, and that is going to take time to manufacture. So we have to be optimistic and realistic at the same time,” the WHO chief scientist added.
As we write this, there are more than 125 COVID vaccine candidates in different stages of pre-clinical and clinical trials. The good news is that 32 of them have made their way to human trials and 8 of these potential vaccines have started conducting their last stage (Phase III) clinical trials. Leading this race are the vaccine candidates developed by US-drugmaker Moderna, BioNtech-Pfizer and AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.