Global Health Matters

Covid-19 vaccine: when, and for whom?

Global Health Matters
30th July 2020
By Thomas B. Cueni

On 24 July, Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Director General, joined Imogen Foulkes for the Inside Geneva podcast on  Swiss Info, to talk about the development, production and eventual distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Their discussion highlighted the importance of broad-based collaborative efforts among all stakeholders as well as the vital necessity of leaving no one behind and prioritizing the most vulnerable worldwide. However, in this race against the pandemic, maintaining high standards in safety and testing is imperative to ensure long term confidence in vaccines long after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

“We can’t cut corners in safety, as it will undermine confidence in vaccines probably way beyond COVID-19:” this was a key mission highlighted by Thomas Cueni as regards sustained trust in vaccines which have proven to be the cheapest and most effective way to protect people, notably the most vulnerable groups, from otherwise visceral and deadly diseases. Vaccines save millions of lives and safeguard public health nationally and globally.

Today, unfortunately, despite all the political pressure, it is too early to know when a vaccine will be ready, and how effective it will be. “We simply don’t know yet, but I’m optimistic because [the virus] seems to be relatively stable, so the scientists I have talked to are optimistic. I do think that it more likely we will have a vaccine available in big volumes sometime next year rather than this year, simply because there are too many unknowns. I truly believe that one needs to go through the proper clinical trials in all their phases with proper evaluations.”

This cautious optimism permeates the entire discussion, as unprecedented efforts to find shared and equitable solutions are visibly being undertaken all around the world. Cueni says: “We’re seeing levels of partnership and collaboration we’ve never seen before, including the WHO, European Commission, many heads of state and non-governmental organizations from both public and private sectors. He adds: “I think everybody is deeply conscious that until the pandemic is over, until we have really defeated Sars-Cov-2, no one is safe, because this is a global danger. We genuinely are all in this together”.

Listen to the full podcast here.