The World Health Organisation’s chief scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, on Thursday shared that the agency is optimistic and hopeful that the Covid-19 vaccines could be available before the end of this year.
She was addressing a press briefing from Geneva on the latest coronavirus drug trial findings, where she also said that clinical trials have now definitively shown that anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine does not have an impact on preventing deaths from Covid-19.
In reference to a future vaccine against the deadly virus, she said there are about 10 candidates which are in human testing phase and at least three of them are entering the new promising phase-three stage which proves a vaccine’s efficacy.
“I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic, but vaccine development is a complex undertaking and comes with a lot of uncertainty. The good thing is we have many different vaccine candidates and platforms,” she said, adding that WHO’s focus is also on accelerating and scaling up a potential vaccine.
“If we are lucky, there will be one or two successful candidates before the end of this year,” she said.
Dr Swaminathan said that further large trials are ongoing to establish the “last word” on whether hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) may have a role to play in prevention, either before or after exposure to coronavirus.
“What is clear now is hydroxychloroquine does not have an impact on the disease course on mortality in hospitalised Covid-19 patients,” said Swaminathan, in response to a question about the anti-malarial drug.
“Where there is still a gap is: does it have any role at all in prevention or minimising the severity of the illness in early infection. We need to complete those large trials to have a definitive answer on that,” she said.