MOSCOW, July 30 (Sputnik) - The international community is better off investing in the global COVAX Facility, a mechanism designed to accelerate the development and fair distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, rather than each country pursuing its own one unilaterally, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Thursday.
"The more the countries join this facility and contribute to this pooling mechanism, the greater the chances of success and also the greater the speed at which we could move," Swaminathan told a virtual press briefing.
The key advantage of such globalized mechanism is that all nations, regardless of their location and development level, will have the opportunity to access the vaccine at the same time, the WHO official explained, citing how "many times in the past" it so happened that the distribution of vaccines was uneven across the world, including during the H1N1 pandemic.
"Any country that wants to provide vaccines for their own citizens can do that by investing in the COVAX facility, which will then invest across a range of vaccine candidates both in the research&development and the manufacturing. So any country that supports COVAX has a better chance of getting a successful vaccine candidate then going after a single one on their own," Swaminathan said.
COVAX is co-led by the Gavi vaccine alliance, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. It is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator under the WHO auspices to bring together vaccine developers from different countries in a common quest for a safe COVID-19 vaccine.
WHO has also compiled a register of candidate vaccines in the works, which presently includes 25 vaccines that have already launched trials on humans and another 139 that are yet at the stage of preclinical evaluation.
According to the WHO protocols, a vaccine has to go through three phases of studies to be approved for large-scale production.
Phase 1 normally involves small-scale studies on up to 100 participants to determine a candidate vaccine's safety and clinical tolerance. Phase 2 can include up to 1,000 and is more representative in terms their age, ethnicity and other statistically significant factors. This phase pursues to determine the optimal dose, intervals between doses and the minimum necessary number of doses in a target population.
Phase 3 trials are the largest and can include up to 10,000 participants with the maximum representation of target population categories. A candidate vaccine is ready to move into industrial production if this last phase provides clear and definitive evidence of its safety and efficacy.