A COVID-19 vaccine may be ready as soon as the end of 2020, according to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Drug manufacturers and public health organisations are in a race against time to develop a vaccine, which is believed to be the best way to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

“We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope,” said Ghebreyesus at a WHO Executive Board meeting on Tuesday, October 6.

At the two-day meeting, which was called to examine the world’s response to the pandemic, Ghebreyesus pleaded with global leaders to show solidarity and political commitment when the time comes, to ensure that there is an equal distribution of the vaccines when they become available, according to Reuters.

The WHO’s COVAX global vaccine facility is currently working on nine experimental vaccines and the facility aims to distribute 2-billion doses, across the world, by the end of 2021.

There are 168 countries who have joined the COVAX programme thus far. There are some notable absentees, namely, the United States, Russia and China.

There are currently 15 ongoing clinical vaccine trials in Africa. Five trials are underway in South Africa, four in Egypt, while Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe are each conducting a single trial.

“African nations have teamed up to combat the pandemic, with painful memories of millions of Africans dying in the decade it took for affordable HIV drugs to become available on the continent,” writes the Independent.

Drug manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech have started participant enrolment for the Phase III clinical trial of their respective vaccines in South Africa. The trial will involve 800 participants across four sites in Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape.

As of October 6, South Africa has identified 683 242 COVID-19 cases with 1027 new cases added since the last report.

The death toll now stands at 17 103 after an additional 87 deaths were recorded.

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