Vaccine still at least a year away, drug companies warn
Geneva, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- A vaccine against the novel coronavirus is still between 12 and 18 months away from being developed and sold commercially, leading figures from the pharmaceutical industry said Thursday.
Chief executives and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations held a virtual press conference hosted in Geneva to discuss the industry’s efforts and role in tackling the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s going to take 12 to 18 months until you have a registered vaccine on the market,” said David Loew, vice president of Sanofi Pasteur.
Loew explained that there was one “candidate” vaccine in the clinical testing phase, with several others also approaching that stage, but insisted that big pharma companies could not lower their standards in order to get a vaccine out to market in a shorter time frame.
“You’re injecting this into healthy people, so you don’t want to have suddenly people getting sick because you are short-cutting,” Loew said, adding that “It could also have deleterious effects on other vaccines, if people lose trust in vaccination.”
He said that regulatory authorities were helping in reducing the time to develop a vaccine by accelerating the bureaucratic process.
The vice president and chief scientist for Johnson & Johnson, Paul Stoffels, confirmed that it would take at least 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be available, but assured that the industry would guarantee that any vaccine produced would be made available to everyone “who needs it”.
“That’s a promise for what we are doing jointly as an industry,” he said.
David Ricks, president of Eli Lilly, highlighted the need for the pharmaceutical industry, from manufacturers to regulators, to “act as one team” to fight a “virus that has essentially turned society upside down.”
The vice president of the IFPMA, Severin Schwan, warned that the demand for the vaccine far outweighs the supply, and dismissed hopes that diagnostic kits would be made widely available.
“Testing should be targeted for high risk patients. Broad based testing at this stage is simply not feasible,” he said.
But Schwan also praised the collaborative spirit shown by the industry since the outbreak, which he and others said would be crucial to overcoming the challenges presented by the crisis
“I’m really impressed with how people have come together here, not just in the industry, but beyond,” he said. EFE-EPA