The World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist said Thursday the agency hopes there will be about two billion doses of a vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of next year that would be reserved for “priority populations.”
Speaking at a virtual news conference in Geneva, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told reporters, “It’s a big ‘if’ because we don’t have any vaccine that’s proven.”
She said she is encouraged by the number of possible vaccines currently being tested and hoped at least one or two would prove ready for use by next year.
Swaminathan said that the WHO recommends immunizing people at risk first, including the elderly and those with underlying conditions like diabetes or respiratory disease, as well as key workers. But she said countries must come to a consensus on which populations would be prioritized.
Numerous developed countries including Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. have already struck deals with pharmaceutical firms to secure vaccine supplies for their citizens.
On Wednesday, EU Commission President Ursual von der Leyen announced a donor conference scheduled for June 28 designed to raise funds to ensure all people can get access to any vaccines or COVID-19 treatments that might become available.
She said there is no place for “Me first” when it comes to fighting a global pandemic.
The WHO and partners have called for drug makers to suspend their patent rights on any effective COVID-19 vaccine and for billions of dollars to buy vaccines for developing countries.