• The US, as well as the rest of the world, is keenly awaiting the arrival of a successful coronavirus vaccine, as it’s generally assumed that this is what will finally bring about the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • However, the CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has just made a depressing prediction.
  • Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, thinks it will take 4-5 years to vaccinate the global population against COVID-19.

When it comes to the power of a coronavirus vaccine — once one of the winning candidates from the scores being worked on and trialed around the world is finally ready to be administered — there are two crucial variables that will determine how successful it is in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic to an end.

You can think of it as these two variables contributing to the vaccine’s overall impact on the pandemic, plotted out in the form of an equation. As White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci explained it in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, you need a vaccine with a high enough percentage of effectiveness plus a high enough number of people who are willing to be vaccinated. High effectiveness, plus the biggest number of vaccine recipients — that’s what equals the best chance of ending the pandemic. “If you have a vaccine that is highly effective and not enough people get vaccinated, you’re not going to realize the full, important effect of having a vaccine,” Dr. Fauci told the newspaper.

Meantime, it’s also helpful to remember that while the US has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus — in terms of the number of cases and deaths (more than 6.6 million and more than 197,000, respectively, per Johns Hopkins) — the crisis is similarly playing out to a lesser but no less devastating degree around the rest of the world. To that end, the CEO of the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world has recently shared a truly depressing prediction: It might take until 2025 for everyone in the world to have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, told The Financial Times.

Poonawalla’s institute has actually teamed up with five global pharmaceutical companies to manufacturer a coronavirus vaccine, including with the company AstraZeneca as well as with US-based Novavax. The institute’s goal is to produce 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, which includes a pledge to steer half of those to its home country of India.

It’s generally believed, though, that even a pile of COVID-19 vaccine doses that large won’t be near enough to meet the global need. Experts have been talking up the assumption that a vaccine will probably need to be administered in two doses, like the measles vaccine, which would thus require an estimated 15 billion doses of the vaccine. “I know the world wants to be optimistic (about a vaccine) … I have not heard of anyone coming even close to that (level) right now,” Poonawalla said to the FT. So, unfortunately, it seems that while a vaccine seems close at hand in the US, the picture globally is a completely different story.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.