A COVID-19 vaccine will be available by Christmas, according to a leading Irish epidemiologist.
Professor Luke O’Neill has renewed confidence that a vaccine could arrive by the end of the year.
It follows the announcement by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that it expects to receive emergency authorisation use for its vaccine in the US by the third week of November.
Professor O’Neill described statement from Pfizer was very promising.
He also noted that Barclay’s Investment Bank has also examined some of the data around vaccine development and is predicting as many as three vaccines could be approved by Christmas and five more in the middle of 2021.
Barclays has given the Pfizer vaccine an 85% change of being approved and believes it will be followed swifty by several others.
“Can you imagine before Christmas if the headline is that the vaccine shows efficacy? They are going to ramp up production in the coming months,” Professor O’Neill told The Brendan O’Connor Show on RTÉ Radio One [via Irish Times].
According to the leading epidemiologist, there are already hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines available, as pharmaceutical companies have been stockpiling in anticipation of their success.
“It’s a sign that people are looking at this in a positive way,” he said.
“Some might work better than the other. The question is who’s will be the most efficacious. The more we have the better.”
In addition to vaccines, Professor O’Neill pointed to the continued development of antigen tests which will be able to determine, almost immediately, whether someone has the virus.
He expects these antigen tests to become widely available in the next two to three months in a development that could provide another welcome step back towards normal life.
The Irish virus expert also noted that improved efficiency in the treatment of Covid-19 has seen the number of patients dying in ICUs drop from 39% to 12% globally.
“The signs are that they are getting much better at treating patients,” he said.
His comments come amid rising case numbers in Ireland, with some health experts calling on the government to implement the strictest lockdown measures available.
At present, Ireland is living in a Level 3 lockdown, with pubs and restaurants prohibited from serving customers indoors.