Scientists optimistic about COVID-19 vaccines for all

Scientists developing COVID-19 vaccines are optimistic that by the end of next year, all people everywhere will have access to safe and effective treatments against a disease which has disrupted the entire planet.

Principals from BioNTech and Oxford University – both pioneers in the COVID vaccine rollout –participated in an online dialogue on Friday, held under the special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to the pandemic.

“There is no other option. We have to achieve it. And we can achieve it, and we will achieve it,” said Professor Uğur Şahin, Chief Executive Officer of BioNTech, whose vaccine developed with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer was this week approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom.

Research and development of COVID-19 vaccines is taking place in record time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, more than 150 candidates are at various stages of development, at least 15 of which are in late-stage human clinical trials. Four are effective, according to interim results.

“We are in a very exciting stage now where we are seeing efficacy results coming out, and the first vaccine licenses. And what we need to do is continue with the collaboration because we need more vaccines than the ones we’ve heard about today,” said Professor Sarah Gilbert from Oxford University, partners on a vaccine with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“And so, it is on us as scientists to continue to collaborate and make available the information that’s going to help the development of the other vaccines, because that’s the way we are going to get the most vaccines for the world.”