Widespread Covid-19 vaccinations not expected until mid-2021 - WHO

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The WHO expects widespread vaccinations against Covid-19 in 2021.
  • The organisation said no vaccine candidates have demonstrated 50% efficacy.
  • Western experts have questioned Russia's Covid-19 vaccine.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not expect widespread vaccinations against Covid-19 until the middle of next year, a spokesperson said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety.

LIVE | All the latest coronavirus and lockdown updates

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% sought by the WHO, spokesperson Margaret Harris said.

Russia granted regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine in August after less than two months of human testing, prompting some Western experts to question its safety and efficacy.

US public health officials and Pfizer Inc said on Thursday a vaccine could be ready for distribution as soon as late October. That would be just ahead of the US election on 3 November in which the pandemic is likely to be a major factor among voters deciding whether President Donald Trump wins a second term.

"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. This referred to the phase in vaccine research where large clinical trials among people are conducted. Harris did not refer to any specific vaccine candidate.

'Door is open'

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.

The 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 two billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021, but some countries that have secured their own supplies through bilateral deals, including the US, have said they will not join.

"Essentially, the door is open. We are open. What the Covax is about is making sure everybody on the planet will get access to the vaccines," Harris said.

Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
The 2021 Matric exams have been brought forward to avoid clashing with elections. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
A disaster - kids are stressed enough
45% - 1101 votes
Not the best idea, but necessary
15% - 363 votes
No big deal, it's just a few days
40% - 981 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.73
-0.9%
Rand - Pound
20.26
+0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.28
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.70
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.1%
Gold
1,754.62
0.0%
Silver
22.41
0.0%
Palladium
2,019.00
0.0%
Platinum
944.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
75.34
-0.4%
Top 40
56,605
-0.9%
All Share
62,864
-0.7%
Resource 10
56,497
-3.9%
Industrial 25
81,170
+1.0%
Financial 15
14,018
+0.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE