COVID-19 vaccine growth is encouraging but volume of dose concerns: WHO

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The World Health Organization (WHO) is impressed with the growth in the number of vaccines against COVID-19 that have performed well in clinical trials, but the lower volume of available doses makes the organization anxious, says Bruce Aylward, senior WHO adviser.

Dr. Aylward states that a handful of vaccine candidates have shown more than 90 percent efficacy level against COVID-19 during the clinical trials and multiple vaccine platforms have shown strong results.

“If you look week by week at the number of companies that are announcing positive results in terms of the efficacy of vaccines, that number is increasing and what’s important is it’s increasing not just in terms of the number of products, but also the different technology platforms that they are being built on. As we’ve seen now, there are three different sorts of technology platforms, as we call them, that have reported very positive efficacy and safety data,” the WHO senior adviser said.

In the past week, media reports had shown that the UK approved COVID-19 vaccine developer Pfizer will not be able to meet its original supply targets for its doses due to the supply chain issues. The vaccine which is produced in partnership with German firm BioNTech needs to be stored and shipped at -70 Celsius and this makes the distribution process challenging.

The British pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi have announced that their vaccine candidate will not be available until the end of 2021 due to disappointing trial results and Dr. Aylward mentioned the organization’s concern over the actual number of available vaccine doses.

Bruce Aylward
Bruce Aylward
Senior Adviser – WHO

“There are real challenges with volumes. These are still very, very scarce products. And just as some companies are announcing successes, there are others and we’ve had two over the last few days that have said they have had challenges with their products either in terms of the volumes they can produce or in terms of some of the trial results.”

While, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his optimistic note that more countries will begin their mass inoculation programs against the COVID-19 soon.