WHO says young healthy people might not get coronavirus vaccine shots until 2022

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Dr. Soumya Swaminathan/WHO chief scientist

Healthy and young people might not get shots of coronavirus vaccine until 2022 as the elderly and vulnerable groups remain on priority for immunisation, top officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Wednesday. 

According to WHO chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, health workers, frontline workers and the elderly will likely be offered a vaccine first. She, however, added that prioritisation details are still being worked out by the WHO and its advisory groups. 

“People tend to think that on the first of January of the first of April, I’m going to get the vaccine, and then things will be back to normal,” Swaminathan said, adding that “it’s not going to work like that.”

Dr. Swaminathan said that the world will hopefully have at least one safe and effective vaccine by 2021, but it will be available in “limited quantities.”

Noting that over 10 coronavirus vaccines around the world are in late-stage clinical trials, she said that WHO’s strategic advisory group of experts on immunization, or SAGE, will release guidance on what populations each vaccine is best suited for and how to logistically distribute it. 

“Most people agree that it’s starting with healthcare workers and frontline workers, but even then you need to define which of them are at highest risk and then the elderly and so on,”Swaminathan said. “There will be a lot of guidance coming out, but I think an average person, a healthy young person might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine.”

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