When will COVID-19 vaccines be ready for distribution?

We don’t yet know exactly when a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for distribution, but we estimate that it could be in early to mid-2021. Before COVID-19 vaccines can be delivered, several important challenges must be overcome:

  • The vaccines must be proven safe and effective in large (phase III) clinical trials. Many potential vaccines for COVID-19 are being studied, and some of the large clinical trials may report results in late 2020 or early 2021.
  • A series of independent reviews of the efficacy and safety evidence is required, including regulatory review and approval in the country where the vaccine is manufactured, before WHO considers a vaccine product for prequalification. Part of this process also involves the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety.
  • An external panel of experts convened by WHO, called SAGE, will analyze the results from clinical trials and along with evidence on the disease, age groups affected, risk factors for disease, and other information, they will recommend whether and how the vaccines should be used. Officials in individual countries will decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use and develop policies for how to use the vaccines in their country based on the WHO recommendations.
  • The vaccines must be manufactured in large quantities, which will be a major and unprecedented challenge – all the while continuing to produce all the other important life-saving vaccines already in use.
  • As a final step, vaccines will be distributed through a complex logistical process, with rigorous stock management and temperature control.

WHO is working with partners around the world to accelerate every step of this process, while also ensuring the highest safety standards are met. More information is available here.


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