UN says 7 or 8 `top' candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine exist

FILE - In this Monday, March 9, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization speaks during a news conference on updates regarding on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. After the new coronavirus erupted in China, the World Health Organization sprang into action: It declared an international health emergency, rushed a team to the epicenter in Wuhan and urged other countries to get ready and drum up funding for the response. Many analysts have praised the initial response by the worlds go-to agency on health matters. But now, governments have started to brush aside, ignore and criticize WHO recommendations on issues of public policy, like whether cross-border travel should be restricted or whether the public should wear masks. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, file)
FILE - In this Monday, March 9, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization speaks during a news conference on updates regarding on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. After the new coronavirus erupted in China, the World Health Organization sprang into action: It declared an international health emergency, rushed a team to the epicenter in Wuhan and urged other countries to get ready and drum up funding for the response. Many analysts have praised the initial response by the worlds go-to agency on health matters. But now, governments have started to brush aside, ignore and criticize WHO recommendations on issues of public policy, like whether cross-border travel should be restricted or whether the public should wear masks. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, file)

TANZANIA – The World Health Organization chief said Monday there are around seven or eight “top” candidates for a vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus and work on them is being accelerated.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a U.N. Economic and Social Council video briefing the original thinking two months ago was that it may take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine. But he said an accelerated effort is under way, helped by 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) pledged a week ago by leaders from 40 countries, organizations and banks for research, treatment and testing.

He said the $8 billion will not be enough, and additional funds will be needed to speed up the development of a vaccine, but more importantly to produce enough “to make sure that this vaccine reaches everyone — (and) there’s no one be left behind.”

“We have good candidates now,” Tedros said. “The top ones are around seven, eight. But we have more than a hundred candidates.”

“We are focusing on the few candidates we have which can bring probably better results and accelerating those candidates with better potential,” he said.

Tedros did not identify the top candidates.

Since January, he said, “WHO has been working with thousands of researchers all over the world to accelerate and track vaccine development from developing animal models to clinical trial designs and everything in between.”

Tedros said there is also a consortium of more than 400 scientists involved in vaccine development and diagnostics.