European Union offers Covid-19 pandemic vaccine hope

Friday, May 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Commuters make their way along a busy street after the government eased lockdown imposed as in Karachi, Pakistan yesterday. Photo/AFP

The Hague, Thursday

The European Union’s medicines agency suggested Thursday that a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready in year, even as the World Health Organisation warned that the disease may never go away.

World leaders past and present have insisted that any eventual vaccines and treatments should be made available to everyone free of charge, with the global death toll from the disease nearing 300,000.

The pandemic has caused massive social and economic upheaval across the planet and while some nations have begun easing punishing lockdowns, fears of a second wave have kept many businesses shuttered and people confined to their homes.

Washington ratcheted up tensions over the crisis by accusing China of trying to steal research, and US President Donald Trump upped the rhetoric with a colourful phrase that was likely to infuriate Beijing.

“We just made a great Trade Deal, the ink was barely dry, and the World was hit by the Plague from China. 100 Trade Deals wouldn’t make up the difference—and all those innocent lives lost!” Trump tweeted.

Trump also suggested that the US could cut off whole relationship with China

With the race to find a vaccine gathering pace, the European Medicines Agency said one could possibly be ready in a year based on data from trials under way.

Announcing the forecast at a video news conference, Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy, stressed that it was a “best-case scenario”. 

Effective vaccine

And world leaders were among 140 signatories to a letter published Thursday saying any vaccine should not be patented and that the science should be shared among nations. 

“Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge,” it said.

A vaccine could allow countries to fully reopen from shutdowns that have battered economies and thrown millions of people out of work.

But the WHO cautioned that the virus may never be wiped out entirely. “This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away,” said Michael Ryan, the global health body’s emergencies director.

The UN also warned that the outbreak risked a major mental health crisis and called for urgent action to address psychological suffering. -AFP

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