It could take at least a year to develop a vaccine to halt the coronavirus pandemic, according to a top expert with the World Health Organization.
“I think we have to be realistic. Vaccines take a lot of time to develop, test, make them safe, prove they’re effective, then you need to produce enough vaccine for everybody,” Mike Ryan, who is executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
As far as the timeline goes, Ryan said that “we are talking at least a year” before a vaccine will be available.
“But that doesn’t mean we are helpless, we can do a lot to stop this disease right now and we can save a lot of lives right now,” Ryan said.
He urged countries to implement strong measures, such as widespread testing — otherwise the contagion will ramp up again once lockdowns are lifted.
“If we don’t put in place the strong measures, the strong public health measures now, when those restrictions and those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up,” Ryan said.
Ryan said that countries such as China, Singapore and South Korea were models of how the government can take such precautions to contain the virus.
“We need to actively search for cases of the virus and we need to test every single suspect case and if any contacts are sick we need to test them as well,” Ryan said. “We don’t need to test everybody, we need to focus on testing those who may have the virus.”
Worldwide, there have been more than 350,000 cases of the virus as the death toll climbs over 15,000, according to figures Monday from John Hopkins University.