FORECASTS: When we can expect a corona vaccine

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Still this year or not until mid 2021? These are the experts’ forecasts.

About 180 vaccine candidates are being developed against the new coronavirus worldwide, some of which are already being tested in large-scale Phase III studies. But when can we expect a vaccination? The experts’ forecasts are quite different.

Vaccination already in December?
According to Markus Zeitlinger, Head of the University Clinic for Clinical Pharmacology at MedUni Vienna, approvals for the first vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Europe could well be granted in December or January. If this is indeed the case and sufficient vaccine doses are available in this country, the main goal is to achieve a high vaccination rate. Here one should also try to convince the number of sceptics, which has increased in the past months, because “a lot is at stake”, said the internist.

One is somewhat more careful in Germany: Health Minister Jens Spahn expects “at the beginning of next year” a vaccine against Covid-19 for the German population. But it is also possible that the approval will only be granted after March, the CDU politician told “Der Spiegel” according to a preliminary report on Friday. The president of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, had made a similar statement on Thursday.

At the same time, Spahn dampened expectations regarding the effectiveness of vaccines. “Of course it would be best if a vaccine would prevent new infections. But it would also be a gain if it would make the course of the disease milder,” said Spahn, who is himself infected with the virus. Once a vaccine has been approved, it could then take six or seven months before the population is vaccinated – whereby Spahn emphasized the voluntary nature of the vaccination. The magazine pointed out that the interview had been conducted before the Minister of Health’s corona infection was detected.
EU and WHO are more skeptical
The EU Commission also assumes that it will take months until a vaccine is available. According to the EU Commission, there is no quick solution in sight for the corona crisis through vaccinations. “It will still take months before a vaccine is found and distributed,” said Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic on Wednesday in the European Parliament in Brussels. Nobody knows today when the pandemic will finally be over.

The WHO is even more cautious. The World Health Organization expects vaccination against the coronavirus to start in mid 2021, and data from the final Phase 3 studies should be available early next year, a WHO expert said in Geneva on Monday. After that, the decisions on the start of the vaccination could be made. As a precaution, the companies involved have already produced millions of doses. Risk groups could be the first to expect a vaccination.

The results of the study so far are encouraging, especially with regard to its efficacy in older people, she added. According to WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO is launching a new, this time quite cheerful, campaign against the pandemic. The focus will be on the catchy tune “We Are Family” by the US singing group Sister Sledge. She was very moved by this, said Kim Sledge. The song should encourage people all over the world to show solidarity. As doctors, her husband and daughter are on the front line in the fight against the pandemic. The WHO’s #WeAreFamily video campaign is designed to encourage people to sing, record and share the song with their families in social media, for example. The song from 1979 is considered the most successful of the soul and funk group.

— hp, with reports from oe24.at and derspiegel.de. Picture: stockilyapp.com

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