Covid vaccine

When will COVID-19 vaccine arrives

Throughout the World people are asking the same question to epidemiologists “when will Covid vaccine arrive”? The answer for the question would be ‘when the candidate vaccine demonstrates that it is effective on Covid-19, safe to use and available easily and this demonstration should be supported by scientific evidence and data’.

It is not easy to give a specific date for vaccine release.  People questioning about vaccine involves three main concerns. Will the vaccine be safe and effective? When will the vaccine available to all people like them and will vaccine uptake help to return to pre-pandemic condition?

What are some of the challenges for manufacturing vaccine?

According to Merck’s CEO, manufacturing (of covid-19 vaccine), is a bigger challenge than the science challenge of coming up with a safe and effective vaccine.

-Countries are competing against each for access to the supplies of any potential COVID-19 vaccine. It is evident by US funding number of companies for manufacturing in return access for specific number of doses.

-This type of funding could lead to difficulties in getting vaccine to countries and areas which needs it most and cannot afford for such access

-With billions of populations, the next challenge is scaling up vaccine manufacturing process to protect humans on the planet. It is the first time in history, such huge delivery of a vaccine is expected for the world.

– Generally, to release an effective vaccine it takes few years. Delivery of a candidate vaccines must be backed by rigorous science. If not, it can harm than doing good.

– Still there is lot to learn and understand about Covid-19 virus. Question like how virus affects immune system is still not fully answered. Before releasing vaccine, we need to understand how the vaccine will interact with human system.

According to World Health Organization,

172 economies are at present engaged in discussion to participate in COVAX, a global initiative for working with vaccine manufacturers to provide worldwide access to effective and safer vaccines. Nine CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) supported candidate vaccines are part of COVAX initiative. In addition nine other candidate vaccines are under evaluation.

COVAX currently has world’s most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio.  Potentially self-financing 80 countries have showed non-binding expression of interest to COVAX facility coordinated by Gavi. Access to COVID-19 tools (ACT) accelerator is co-led by CEPI, Gavi the vaccine alliance and the WHO. This facility is working with 92 low- and middle-income economies for manufacturing vaccine. In fact, this is the only global initiative that is working with manufacturers and governments to ensure vaccines for Covid-19 available to all countries.

WHO is expecting the countries get equal access to COVID-19 vaccines to control the pandemic. CEPI which is an international non govt organization is funded by Wellcome Trust, The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the European Commission and eight countries (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, UK and Norway) is supporting development of vaccines for five epidemic pathogens in WHO priority list.

Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI- “Maximizing the portfolio of vaccines increases the probability of success as individual vaccines historically have a high failure rate. In the scramble for a vaccine, countries can act alone – creating a few winners, and many losers – or they can come together to participate in COVAX, an initiative which is built on enlightened self-interest but also equity, leaving no country behind,”

End of last month, August -A collaboration between Serum Institute of India (SII), Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced, It will ensure up to 100 million doses of AstraZeneca or Novavax’s candidate vaccines, if this is successful, vaccine will be available to low- and middle-income economies through the COVAX Facility at just US$ 3 per dose! (WHO)

Till recently out of 70 ‘candidates’ tested three have moved to the human clinical trial stage. The goal of COVAX initiation is, by the end of year 2021, to deliver two billion doses of effective and safe vaccine after it passes through regulatory approval by WHO. These vaccines will be offered equally to all including those countries who are participating in development and manufacturing. Initially priority will be given to healthcare workers then to all vulnerable population such as elderly and pre-existing conditions population. Next it will be made available to countries based on need, vulnerability and threat from Covid-19.


Image credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay (Free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: September 10, 2020

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