Only one in 10 of the world’s 7.8 billion people is likely to be protected against the coronavirus in the first year of a vaccine made available, it has been reported.
Experts told Sky News that with seven of the nine prototype vaccines in late-stage clinical trials requiring two doses, there will likely be enough doses to immunize just over 12% of the world’s population.
Ministers and experts working on vaccine trials said a treatment could be approved by Christmas.
But analysis of global manufacturing capacity shows that even if a treatment were approved by regulators earlier this year, only two billion doses could be manufactured in 2021.
Dr Cleo Kontoravdi, associate professor of chemical engineering at Imperial College London, told Sky News: “We need to be clear that initially not everyone will have access to the vaccine.
“We don’t have the manufacturing capacity. ”
He suggests that measures to slow the spread of Covid-19, such as travel restrictions and quarantines, could still be in place over the next two years.
The UK government recently partnered with Indian drugmaker Wockhardt to boost manufacturing.
The aim is for Wockhardt to participate in the crucial “fill and finish” step of the manufacturing process which involved dispensing the vaccine into vials for distribution.
Ravi Limaye, managing director of Wockhardt in the UK, told Sky News the company was taking a “risk” by starting preparations for the production of the Oxford vaccine as early as November.
The vials should be destroyed if the vaccine does not obtain regulatory approval.
“This is a risk that must be taken into account the enormity of this pandemic,” said Mr. Limaye.
“This is an unprecedented step taken by the government in the interests of the UK to prepare the vaccine so that if it is approved by regulators it can be used immediately. It is a risk but a calculated risk. ”
It comes as the UK has joined Covax, the international initiative to support the discovery, manufacture and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines for one billion people by the end of 2021.
Covax is the vaccine pillar of the Covid-19 Tool Access Accelerator (ACT), a global collaboration aimed at accelerating development, production and equitable access to coronavirus testing, treatment and vaccines.
The UK is working with international partners to get Covax in place as quickly as possible, which will support access to any coronavirus vaccine in the UK for millions of people.
Speaking about the announcement, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The global effort to find a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus is not a competition but is among the most urgent joint efforts of our lives – it benefits us all to be better equipped to fight this. virus.
“Today’s historic agreement complements the various vaccine contracts the UK has already entered into and ensures that we have the best chance of accessing a safe and effective vaccine for people in the UK as soon as possible. ‘it will be available, as well as promote access in the poorest countries. “