The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 are not expected until the mid 2021.
A spokesperson for the health agency, Margaret Harris, said none of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials demonstrated a clear sign of efficacy.
This is according to a report published on Reuters on Friday.
“We are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination(s) until the middle of next year.
“None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a ‘clear signal’ of efficacy at the level of at least 50 per cent,” Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.
Russia takes lead
Meanwhile, the Russian government has announced that it will begin mass vaccinations of its citizens against coronavirus from October.
In August, Russia granted regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, prompting some health experts to question its safety and efficacy.
The first peer-reviewed results of Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, which is named Sputnik-V, have been published in the medical journal, The Lancet, on Friday, according to CNN.
Russia faced criticisms last month when it announced the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine for public use, even before Phase 3 trials are completed.
A vaccine must complete three phases of trials – involving randomised controlled trials on large patient groups – before it could be considered for approval, according to the WHO.
Although the Russian-made vaccine is still undergoing phase 3 of clinical trials, Nigeria received samples of the COVID-19 vaccine from Russia on Friday.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, said the vaccine would be quickly referred to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as well as the Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, amongst other agencies, for review and possible validation.
However, health experts in South Africa, the first African country to receive samples of the ‘cure’, cautioned against placing much hope on the new vaccine. They said little is known about the efficacy of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Harris said the phase 3 of the clinical trials will take a longer time to ensure the efficacy of the vaccine.
She said phase 3 in vaccine research is when large clinical trials among people are conducted.
“This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is,”she said.
She said the WHO and GAVI vaccine alliance is leading a global vaccine allocation plan known as COVAX that aims to help buy and distribute curative shots fairly.
She noted that focus is on first vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country such as healthcare workers.
“Essentially, the door is open. We are open. What the COVAX is about is making sure everybody on the planet will get access to the vaccines,” Harris said.
The Nigerian government has said it is working hard to ensure that Nigerians have access to the COVID-19 vaccines when available.