Injection of Hope
How far are we from a COVID vaccine?
There are many promising vaccines being trialled to combat COVID-19. But as scientists around the world work to defeat the pandemic, some are asking who a coronavirus vaccine will belong to. Will it be free and available to all?
While most vaccine research is a shared global initiative, there has been one significant holdout: the US is developing its own vaccine, alone. "Any vaccine that’s manufactured by the large pharma companies in the United States, I do not see how a single dose will be exported until that whole domestic market is satisfied, which may take two or three years", says one vaccine researcher. The involvement of big pharmaceutical companies also raises questions about the affordability of the vaccine. “We need a systemic approach that actually means fair and equitable pricing at the end of the day, on what should be a public good“, says MSF exec Jennifer Tierney. As COVID-19 claims almost half-a-million lives, scientists worldwide are scrambling, not only to develop the vaccine but also to finance the huge operation. Speed is vital and big pharma controls most capability and capacity. It raises a global conundrum - how to tame the devil we must dance with. "In normal vaccine development, you would have months to work some of these issues out. We’ve got days and weeks to do that", says Professor Paul Young, who is leading Australia’s vaccine effort.FULL SYNOPSIS