A return to normal life before COVID-19 may not be possible until 2022 due to a short supply of vaccines, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization told the South China Morning Post.
The prediction from the WHO's Soumya Swaminathan came as much of the west was guarding against a second wave and while hard-hit developing countries began to see signs that infections were going down. In the Philippines, authorities expect to flatten the curve by the end of September.
Vaccine production will be too small and will not reach the target 2 billion by the end of 2021. That's the threshold scientists are looking at to forego the need for face masks and physical distancing, Swaminathan said.
Swaminatahan was referring to the WHO's COVAX vaccine initiative, which he said could pool hundreds of millions of doses by mid-2021. Some 170 countries under the initiative "will have something." The Philippines is a part of COVAX.
“The way that people are picturing it is that in January you have vaccines for the whole world and things will start going back to normal – it is not how it works,” she said.
“Our best assessment [for vaccine roll-out] is the middle of 2021 because at the beginning of 2021 is when you will start seeing the results of some of these trials.”
President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he would "give preference" to COVID-19 vaccines by Russia and China as long as they would be proven effective. He also said western drugmakers "must be crazy" for asking for a reservation fee for their own vaccines.
The Philippines is preparing for phase three human trials on COVID-19 vaccines. This is the last stage before commecial availability.