It could be another five years before the entire world is vaccinated for COVID-19, the CEO of the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world said.
Adar Poonawalla, who runs the Serum Institute of India, spoke with the Financial Times and said the challenge of inoculating the world’s 7.8 billion people means the process will take years.
“It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” Poonawalla said.
He said the vaccine may require two doses, which means there will need to be upward of 15 billion doses made available.
The Serum Institute is working with five pharmaceutical companies, a list that includes AstraZeneca and Novavax, to develop 1 billion doses of the vaccine. Poonawalla told the Times he has not seen any other company commit to producing that many doses.
“I know the world wants to be optimistic on it … [but] I have not heard of anyone coming even close to that [level] right now,” he said.
Poonawalla said the other issue will be properly distributing the vaccine to remote areas of countries that lack infrastructure, such as India.
“I still don’t see a proper plan on paper to do that [in India] beyond 400m doses,” he said. “You don’t want a situation with the vaccine where you have capacity for your country but you can’t consume it.”
Poonawalla’s remarks came as researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said they reached a breakthrough in creating a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 by isolating an antibody molecule that “completely and specifically neutralizes” the virus.