After admitting that the world may have a COVID-19 vaccine within one year or even a few months earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday said that UK-based AstraZeneca is leading the vaccine race while US-based pharmaceutical major Moderna is not far behind.
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan stated that the AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine candidate is the most advanced vaccine currently in terms of development.
"I think AstraZeneca certainly has a more global scope at the moment in terms of where they are doing and planning their vaccine trials," she told the media.
AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by researchers from the Oxford University will likely provide protection against the disease for one year, the British drug maker's CEO told Belgian radio station Bel RTL this month.
The Oxford University last month announced the start of a Phase II/III UK trial of the vaccine, named AZD1222 (formerly known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), in about 10,000 adult volunteers. Other late-stage trials are due to begin in a number of countries.
Last week, Swaminathan had said that nearly 2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would be ready by the end of next year.
Addressing the media from Geneva, she said that "at the moment, we do not have a proven vaccine but if we are lucky, there will be one or two successful candidates before the end of this year" and 2 billion doses by the end of next year.
Scientists predict that the world may have a COVID-19 vaccine within one year or even a few months earlier, said the Director-General of the World Health Organization even as he underlined the importance of global cooperation to develop, manufacture and distribute the vaccines.
However, making the vaccine available and distributing it to all will be a challenge and will require political will, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday during a meeting with the European Parliament's Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
One option would be to give the vaccine only to those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
There are currently over 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in various stages of development.