A spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that they do not expect widespread Covid-19 vaccines to be available until the middle of next year. Speaking at a UN briefing in Geneva, the importance of thorough and rigorous testing to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective was highlighted by the organization.
The WHO spokesperson, Margaret Harris, declared that none of the vaccines that are currently in advanced clinical trials have demonstrated efficacy at the level sought by the WHO, which is at least 50%.
Last month saw the Russian authorities grant approval to a Covid-19 vaccine that was still in Phase 3 of its clinical trials, raising concerns over potential side effects in the long term and how effective it will actually be.
American multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc came out last week, along with a number of US public health officials, to say that a vaccine may be ready for distribution across the US as soon as the end of October.
Sceptics have questioned the reasoning behind such a release date, with an election set to take place on November 3 that will be heavily influenced by the public’s thoughts on how this administration has handled the pandemic, as well as its trust in the next one to guide the country into more settled times.
“We are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year,” Harris told the UN briefing in Geneva. “This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is,” she added
“All data from trials must be shared and compared,” Harris said. “A lot of people have been vaccinated and what we don’t know is whether the vaccine works…at this stage we do not have the clear signal of whether or not it has the level of worthwhile efficacy and safety…,” she continued.
The partnership of the WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has announced that they are working together to produce a leading global vaccination plan to help distribute shots fairly around the globe. The initiative is called COVAX and will attempt to provide the most high-risk citizens of every country with a Covid-19 vaccine.
The plan is to purchase and distribute 2 billion doses of the potential approved vaccines by the end of next year. With President Trump heavily criticizing the WHO since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, the US have said they will not join and instead will concentrate on the deals they have already struck to procure enough vaccines for their citizens.
“Essentially, the door is open. We are open. What the COVAX is about is making sure everybody on the planet will get access to the vaccines,” Harris said.
The US continues to struggle with Covid-19 and its effects as case numbers are still surging in certain areas of the country. The state of New York has recently had to push back plans to further reopen parts of its economy as the level of new cases starts to creep up.
“Western New York is not good news. 1.9% yesterday. The State’s effort on the rapid testing that we started, we did 6,400 tests this week. It’s a 4% positivity overall, which is high,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters during a briefing conference call on September 3.
“Again, it’s not a random sample. These are people who think they may have the virus and that’s why they come in. Chautauqua County was 4. 5, Niagara 2.8, Buffalo City, 5.9. Erie without Buffalo, 2.3. Casinos, we said we were reviewing, we’d have an announcement.
Casinos can open September 9th on the condition that they have the enhanced air filtration system in place before they opened, they would open at 25% maximum occupancy,” Cuomo continued.
“Masks, social distancing, six feet, no table games or beverage service on the gaming floor, additional staff to monitor the traffic and ensure compliance. State gaming commission will be monitoring that. Malls in New York City, again, September 9th, they can open 50% capacity as long as they have the air filtration, the MERV-13, et cetera. Masks and social distancing will be required. Additional staff will be required to control.
“On restaurants in New York City, I understand the tension on the issue. Speaker Cory Johnson said yesterday, I believe, or the day before, that he thinks the restaurants in New York City should open. First, that’s not a decision that’s going to be made by New York City. They have no legal authority to make that decision, the state will make that decision. I happen to agree with the Speaker. I’d like to see the restaurants open. However, there’s a but, B-U-T. The but is our rules and guidance on reopening is only as good as the compliance and the enforcement.”