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A coronavirus vaccine will not be available before the end of the year, a a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert has said.
There were hopes in Britain that a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by researchers at the University of Oxford could be ready by Christmas as the disease continues to ravage countries such as the US, Mexico and Russia.
Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said researchers are making “good progress” in developing vaccines against the virus, and a handful are in late-stage trials.
But their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, the expert said as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels.
It came as the UK government said on Thursday it will provide £100 million of funding for a facility to scale up the manufacturing of vaccines for Covid-19.
Mr Ryan said WHO is working to ensure fair vaccine distribution, but in the meantime it is key to suppress the virus’s spread.
“We’re making good progress,” he said, noting that several vaccines were now in phase 3 trials and none had failed, so far, in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response.
Speaking at a public event shown live on social media, he added: “Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated.”
WHO was working to expand access to potential vaccines and to help scale-up production capacity.
Mr Ryan explained:-
“And we need to be fair about this, because this is a global good.
“Vaccines for this pandemic are not for the wealthy, they are not for the poor, they are for everybody.
The University of Oxford’s possible Covid-19 vaccine called AZD1222 could be rolled out by the end of the year but there is no certainty that will happen, the lead developer of the vaccine said on Tuesday.
The experimental vaccine, which has been licensed to AstraZeneca produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of the year.
The UK government has already ordered 100 million doses.