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Home / Science / Health /  COVID-19 vaccine may be ready by year-end, says WHO chief

A 'safe and effective' vaccine against novel coronavirus disease may be ready by year-end, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. "We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the meeting of WHO's executive board.

WHO director-general also called for solidarity and political commitment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines when they become available. "We need each other, we need solidarity and we need to use all the energy we have to fight the virus," he said.

Nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline of the WHO-led COVAX global vaccine facility. "Especially for the vaccines and other products which are in the pipeline, the most important tool is political commitment from our leaders especially in the equitable distribution of the vaccines," Tedros said.

The COVAX facility, led by the WHO and the public-private partnership GAVI vaccine alliance, gives access to COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development. Countries that sign on to COVAX will get access to a broad portfolio of new vaccine candidates to combat COVID-19. So far some 168 countries have joined the COVAX facility, but neither China, the United States nor Russia are among them.

The GAVI vaccine alliance's board earlier approved up to $150 million to help 92 low- and middle-income countries prepare for the delivery of future COVID-19 vaccines, including technical assistance and cold chain equipment.

All eyes on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Europe’s drugs regulator on Tuesday started an early review of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. Called a “rolling review," the process will allow the European Medicines Agency to look at how the vaccine is performing in real time as data emerges from trials, instead of waiting for the drugmakers to submit everything at once.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday told coronavirus vaccine developers that it would need at least two months of safety data after a full vaccination regime to review applications for emergency use authorization of an experimental vaccine.

Pfizer earlier said that it will seek regulatory approval for its vaccine as early as October. The companies have been granted fast-track review in the US. "We believe US FDA's independence is today more important than ever as public trust in COVID19 vaccine development has been eroded by the politicization of the process," Pfizer Inc's chief executive officer Albert Bourla said.

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