The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday it was seeking to produce several hundred million coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of the year 2020, and at most two billion doses by the end of 2021, according to a news report.
The organization, which is part of the United Nations, also noted that it was currently deciding who is eligible to receive the first batch of doses, based on specific criteria among the potential patients.
“If we’re very lucky, there will be one or two successful [vaccine] candidates before the end of this year,” said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, during a virtual news conference, according to Reuters.
“You have to start with the most vulnerable and then progressively vaccinate more people,” she added.
“But because of all the investments going into this, let’s say we have 2 billion doses by the end of 2021 – we should be able to vaccinate at least these priority populations,” Swaminathan noted.
With regards to the specific characteristics of the those who can potentially receive the first batch, Swaminathan said that priority will likely be given to front-line workers such as doctors, nurses and others more susceptible to the coronavirus, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Swaminathan also discussed the potential of virus mutation, saying that current genetic analysis data collected so far shows that COVID-19 has not mutated into more severe strains.
When asked about the status of the drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been touted as a cure of the coronaviurs by US President Donald Trump, Swaminathan said they have discontinued trials after evidence found that it had no effect on reducing the coronaviurs mortality rate, duration of hospital stays and the need for ventilation for COVID-19 patients.