Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The WHO wants coronavirus vaccines to be widely available ASAP

Published Apr 7th, 2020 5:22PM EDT
Coronavirus Vaccine
Image: Sebastiao Moreira/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that coronavirus vaccine and cure research is advancing at “incredible speed.”
  • The WHO will soon announce an initiative to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available in the future.
  • The WHO Director-General said that coronavirus vaccines and medicine should be deliverable to all affected countries.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is on, with multiple candidates having already reached human trials. Vaccines are the only treatment that could significantly reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and eventually eradicate it. They should provide a boost to the immune system and kickstart a response that would prevent infection. Some of the scientists who are tracking the genetics of the SARS-CoV-2 think that a vaccine might have long-lasting effects too, as the virus isn’t showing significant mutations for the time being.

Even though they’re being fast-tracked to market, the vaccines won’t be ready for at least 12-18 months. Some think that near-final candidates might be ready as soon as this fall for emergency use, such as inoculating medical personnel and first responders, but that’s still months away from even being a possibility. The World Health Organization (WHO), said COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research has “accelerated at incredible speed.” But the WHO wants all countries to have access to vaccines when they’re ready, not just the richest ones.

More than 70 countries have joined the WHO’s trial to accelerate research of treatments, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday in Geneva. The trial is studying four distinct types of therapies for COVID-19 patients. “About 20 institutions and companies are racing to develop a vaccine,” he said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said that a WHO trial will look at the prophylaxis in healthcare workers to see if lower doses of drugs like hydroxychloroquine could reduce the risk of becoming infected. That’s the most discussed anti-COVID-19 drug at the moment, due to President Trump’s unsubstantiated praises for the anti-malarial medicine. Anecdotal evidence says the drug can be effective, but there are also studies that say hydroxychloroquine might not deliver significant improvements.

“So that we’re clear, there’s no proven effective therapeutic or drug against COVID-19,” Ryan said.

More important is the WHO’s approach to vaccines, as the organization is looking to create the logistics that would allow it to work with all governments on vaccination campaigns.

“We will put together a mechanism and we will appoint senior people from the north and south that will work out the details of how they can accelerate production but at the same time how they can ensure equitable distribution,” Tedros said. “When a vaccine or a medicine is ready, we have to be able to deliver it to all over the world. There should not be a divide between the haves and the have-nots.”

Tedros’ comments echo recent remarks from Bill Gates, who has been at the forefront of raising COVID-19 awareness and fighting the pandemic. “To bring the disease to an end, we’ll need a safe and effective vaccine. If we do everything right, we could have one in less than 18 months — about the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed,” Gates wrote in The Wall Street Journal a few days ago. “But creating a vaccine is only half the battle. To protect Americans and people around the world, we’ll need to manufacture billions of doses. (Without a vaccine, developing countries are at even greater risk than wealthy ones, because it’s even harder for them to do physical distancing and shutdowns.)”

A few days ago, the former Microsoft boss said he and his foundation will start creating seven vaccine production lines for different candidates even though only up to two of them might be approved. The effort could cost billions, but it’s necessary to hasten the deployment of the viable vaccines, Gates explained.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.