The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against Covid-19 until the middle of next year, said a spokeswoman on Friday and emphasized the importance of strict controls of their effectiveness and safety.
None of the vaccine candidates in advanced clinical trials have so far shown a "clear signal" of effectiveness at a WHO target of at least 50%, said spokeswoman Margaret Harris.
Russia granted regulatory approval for a Covid-19 vaccine in August after testing in humans for less than two months, leading some Western experts to question its safety and effectiveness.
US health officials and Pfizer said Thursday a vaccine could be ready for distribution by the end of October. This would be right before the November 3rd US election, where the pandemic is likely to be a major factor in voters' decision on whether or not President Donald Trump wins a second term.
"We really don't expect widespread vaccination until the middle of next year," Harris said at a United States briefing in Geneva.
"This phase 3 has to be longer as we need to see how really protective the vaccine is and how safe it is," she added. This was referring to the phase in vaccine research when large human clinical trials are conducted. Harris was not referring to any specific vaccine candidate.
All data from studies needs to be shared and compared, Harris said. "A lot of people have been vaccinated and we don't know if the vaccine is working … at this point we don't have a clear signal as to whether or not it is at the level of worthwhile effectiveness and safety …," she added.
The WHO and GAVI vaccine alliance is running a global vaccine allocation plan called COVAX, which is designed to help buy and distribute shots fairly. The focus is on first vaccinating the people at highest risk in each country, e.g. B. of health care workers.
COVAX intends to source and ship 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021. However, some countries that have secured their own supplies through bilateral agreements, including the US, have announced not to join.
"Essentially, the door is open. We are open. COVAX is about making sure everyone on the planet has access to the vaccines," Harris said.