India markets closed

American pharma company Pfizer's CEO says COVID-19 vaccine likely to be ready by October this year

FP Staff

Pfizer believes that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of October 2020. Albert Bourla, the CEO of the American pharmaceutical company was quoted as saying this by The Times of Israel.

"If things go well, and the stars are aligned, we will have enough evidence of safety and efficacy so that we can€¦ have a vaccine around the end of October," Bourla was quoted as saying in the report, CNBC-TV18 said.

Pfizer is working with German firm Biontech for several possible vaccines in Europe and the United States, said the report.

Several pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions across the world have been trying to develop COVID-19 vaccine ever since the pandemic outbreak in December last year in China.

On May 18, the American biotech company Moderna Inc announced that the preliminary results from the phase 1 trials of their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine seem to be promising.

The research, being led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), USA, had started enrolling volunteers in March. As per Moderna, a total of 45 volunteers in the age group of 18 to 55 years were to be enrolled for the trial originally.

Trials of low-cost medicine underway 

A keenly-watched COVID-19 vaccine will be priced to allow as wide as possible access to it, if it proves successful, and will be made at huge scale to keep costs down and supply up, said the Oxford University professor co-leading its development.

Adrian Hill, director of Oxford's Jenner Institute, which has teamed up with the drugmaker AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine, said ensuring wide distribution and low cost have been central to the project from the start.

Click here to follow LIVE updates on coronavirus outbreak

"This not going to be an expensive vaccine," Hill told Reuters in an interview. "It's going to be a single dose vaccine. It's going to be made for global supply and it's going to be made in many different locations. That was always our plan."

Work on 7 or 8 'top' candidates for vaccine being accelerated: WHO chief

Early this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there were around seven or eight "top" candidates for a vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus and work on them is being accelerated.

Ghebreyesus told a UN Economic and Social Council video briefing the original thinking two months ago was that it may take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine. But he said an accelerated effort is under way, helped by 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) pledged a week ago by leaders from 40 countries, organisations and banks for research, treatment and testing.

He said the $8 billion will not be enough, and additional funds will be needed to speed up the development of a vaccine, but more importantly to produce enough "to make sure that this vaccine reaches everyone €" (and) there's no one be left behind."

Sanofi working on 2 vaccine projects

In the second week of this month, French drugmaker Sanofi SA said it plans to enrol thousands of subjects globally for trials of an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus it is developing with GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and that it has started to discuss advanced purchases with several countries.

Sanofi is working on two vaccine projects to prevent COVID-19 - the illness caused by the new coronavirus - and said it is exploring several manufacturing options, including fresh collaborations to ensure it can meet demand if either program is successful.

Drugmakers are rushing to develop treatments and vaccines for the highly contagious coronavirus that has killed over 255,000 people worldwide, infected more than 3.6 million and ravaged economies globally.

Early this month, Microsoft chief Bill Gates had opined that developing coronavirus vaccine could take two years and humankind has never had a more urgent task.

"Dr Anthony Fauci has said he thinks it'll take around eighteen months to develop a coronavirus vaccine," Gates wrote in a blog post published Thursday. "I agree with him, though it could be as little as 9 months or as long as two years."

Even if it takes 18 months, that would still be the fastest that scientists have created a new vaccine, Gates said, adding that he's thinks eight to ten of the 115 current COVID-19 vaccine candidates look promising.

--With inputs from agencies

Also See: Highly-anticipated coronavirus vaccine will be produced at large scale, won’t be expensive, says Oxford University professor

Coronavirus Outbreak: AstraZeneca in talks with governments to replicate UK vaccine deal

Medical team in Bangladesh suggests combination of Ivermectin and Doxycycline for COVID-19 treatment

Read more on Business by Firstpost.