COVID-19 vaccine may be given to health workers for emergency use first


Based on the analysis of current coronavirus situation globally, the first vaccines may be inoculated to the healthcare workers by the end of the year for emergency use, Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed on Monday at a welcome ceremony held for the returned medical staff who have been sent to Hubei Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 in China.

Under a normal timetable, the period for a vaccine to be available is at least 12 to 18 months, according to the World Health Organization, meaning the vaccine will not be developed until the end of the year or early next year.

But given the trends worldwide, the first vaccines may be given to healthcare workers by the end of the year for emergency use, once they proved effective on clinical trials, Gao said, noting that it is not intended for general public use.

Vaccines are one of the ways for people to develop herd community, which occurs when a sufficient portion of a population is immune to a specific disease so that it can make the spread from person to person unlikely.

"But both drugs and vaccines take time to develop, it's not just lip service," Gao told.

China has decided on five COVID-19 vaccine development options, two of which have entered into the second stage of clinical trials, which are developed by Wuhan Institute of Biological Products of China National Pharmaceutical Group and a Beijing-based unit of Sinovac Biotech.

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Many have turned to the prospect of a vaccine as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the world, with hundreds of thousands of new infections being reported every day.

According to the latest data by Johns Hopkins University, confirmed cases have exceeded 2.4 million globally, with the death toll surpassing 160,000.

Compared to the normal standard, which usually takes eight to 20 years to develop a new vaccine, 18 months is already considered a breakneck speed for launching a new one.

Read more: Graphics: How soon can we get a COVID-19 vaccine?