Young, healthy people may have to wait until 2022 for COVID-19 vaccine, says WHO

GENEVA: According to the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, healthy young people may have to wait as long as 2022 to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, stating that key health workers, and those in the “high-risk” category will be prioritised.

Swaminathan indicated that despite the numerous vaccine trials being undertaken across the world, speedy large-scale vaccinations would be unlikely, adding that “Most people agree, it’s starting with healthcare workers, and frontline workers, but even there, you need to define which of them are at highest risk, and then the elderly, and so on”.

Furthermore, she clarified that considering the progress made in quickly initiating vaccination trials, it can be expected that at least one effective strain of vaccine can be developed by 2021 (albeit in “limited quantities”), despite the fact that two potential candidates from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have been paused indefinitely due to safety concerns.

Swaminathan’s statements come in the midst of a global coronavirus resurgence, especially in Germany, which recorded its highest daily number of cases (6638) since the onset of the pandemic, warning the international community against being complacent about the decline in death rates, adding that “Mortality increases always lag behind increasing cases by a couple of weeks, we shouldn’t be complacent that death rates are coming down”. These revelations come after the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, stated that the concept of “herd immunity” was “scientifically and ethically flawed”.

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is gargantuan in its proportions, with total infections at 38.4 million cases, and 1.09 million deaths – with the United States leading on both counts, with just under 8 million infections, and over 216,000 deaths, not to mention the massive economic impact of the virus itself.