The world’s economy will return to normal faster if everyone in the world has access to an eventual coronavirus vaccine, said World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday.
The vaccine, when it’s discovered, should be made available as a public good, he said.
He was speaking in an online panel discussion with members of the Aspen Security Forum in the United States moderated by the NBC network.
The World Health Organization has projects to make vaccines available in an equitable way to countries around the world.
Several countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Canada, have signed deals with pharmaceutical companies to receive their own supplies of vaccines when they are approved for use.
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan, when asked about a proposed Russian vaccine, told the panel that what was needed now was to ensure any vaccines are safe and effective.
Ryan also said authorities should be able to demonstrate the efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine via traditional clinical trials rather than “human challenge” studies.
He was referring to the intentional exposure of vaccinated volunteers to a virus to see whether the vaccine works. Testing vaccines in areas with high rates of infection can help to avoid this kind of trial, he said.
Tedros also told the panel that U.S. leadership and support on public health had saved many lives. He said the Trump administration’s recent withdrawal from the WHO was not over money but rather the U.S. relationship with the U.N. agency, saying he hoped Washington would reconsider its stance.
Trump said in a radio interview on Thursday it was possible the United States would have a coronavirus vaccine before the Nov. 3 election — a more optimistic forecast than timing put forth by his own White House health experts.
— with files from Reuters
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