WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a U.N. Economic and Social Council video briefing the original thinking two months ago was that it may take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine. But he said an accelerated effort is under way, helped by 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) pledged a week ago by leaders from 40 countries, organizations and banks for research, treatment and testing.
The World Health Organization chief said Monday there are around seven or eight “top” candidates for a vaccine to combat the novel Coronavirus and work on them is being accelerated.
He said the $8 billion will not be enough, and additional funds will be needed to speed up the development of a vaccine, but more importantly to produce enough “to make sure that this vaccine reaches everyone — (and) there’s no one be left behind.”
“We have good candidates now,” Tedros said. “The top ones are around seven, eight. But we have more than a hundred candidates.”
“We are focusing on the few candidates we have which can bring probably better results and accelerating those candidates with better potential,” he said.
Tedros did not identify the top candidates.
Since January, he said, “WHO has been working with thousands of researchers all over the world to accelerate and track vaccine development from developing animal models to clinical trial designs and everything in between.”
Tedros said there is also a consortium of more than 400 scientists involved in vaccine development and diagnostics.
The WHO chief stressed that COVID-19 is “very contagious and it’s a killer,” with over 4 million cases now reported to WHO and almost 275,000 lives lost.
While new cases are declining in Western Europe, they are increasing in Eastern Europe, Africa, southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and other regions, he said.
Tedros said “the pandemic is teaching us many painful lessons,” especially the importance of having strong national and regional health systems.