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WHO hoping for coronavirus vaccine this year

Coronavirus outbreak: China would make COVID-19 vaccine a ‘global public product’
China said on Sunday that it will increase international cooperation if it succeeds in developing a novel coronavirus vaccine, and would make a vaccine a "global public product" when it is ready.

The World Health Organization hopes hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine can be produced this year and 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Thursday.

The WHO is drawing up plans to help decide who should get the first doses once a vaccine is approved, she said.

Priority would be given to frontline workers such as medics, those who are vulnerable because of age or other illness, and those who work or live in high-transmission settings such as prisons and care homes.

READ MORE: As rich nations prepare for coronavirus vaccine, others could be left behind, experts say

“I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic. But vaccine development is a complex undertaking, it comes with a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “The good thing is, we have many vaccines and platforms so even if the first one fails, or the second ones fails, we shouldn’t lose hope, we shouldn’t give up.”

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Around 10 potential vaccines are now undergoing trials in humans, in the hope that a shot to prevent infection can become available in coming months. Countries have already begun making deals with pharmaceutical companies to order doses, even before any vaccines have been proven to work.

READ MORE: Researchers ‘very confident’ vaccine for coronavirus will be developed

Swaminathan described the ambition for hundreds of millions of doses this year as optimistic, and the hope for up to 2 billion doses of up to three different vaccines next year as a “big if.”

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She added that genetic analysis data collected so far showed that the new coronavirus has not yet mutated in any ways that would alter the severity of the illness it causes.