WHO scientist sees regulators cooperating to speed COVID-19 vaccine approval

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan attends a news conference in Geneva.

GENEVA: Regulators that normally work within their own countries or regions will likely harmonise efforts on potential COVID-19 vaccines to speed up their approvals once they become available, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday (Jul 24).

Swaminathan, answering questions on social media platforms, also said testing vaccines for safety and efficacy – usually a years-long process – could be accelerated to just six months in the midst of the pandemic, if data satisfied regulators that they have enough information to issue approvals.

Still, she said, safety would be paramount.

“Whilst speed is important, it cannot be at the cost of compromising on the safety or the efficacy standards that one is setting for oneself,” she said.

“It’s not the case that the first vaccine is going to be rushed through into injecting millions of people without having established the fact whether it’s really protecting you and whether it’s safe enough for use in large populations.”

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