PHARMACEUTICAL company Sanofi Philippines said a realistic timeline for the development and commercialization of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is 18 to 24 months.
"Based on our projections, we can be confident enough in saying that within 18 to 24 months, we should have a vaccine ready," said Sanofi Philippines country manager Jean-Antoine Zinsou in a virtual press conference on Friday, May 29.
The company is the Philippine unit of Sanofi, whose vaccines division Sanofi Pasteur also developed the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine against dengue fever.
Zinsou said such a timetable already provides time allowance for the developers to fully test the safety and efficacy of a candidate vaccine.
"We are dealing with biologicals. It means we are dealing with living materials, which are viruses. Yes, we can project some timelines but there is no guarantee because we don't know how the virus will react. When you develop a vaccine there is always a risk of failure," said Zinsou.
If successful, Zinsou said they are looking at producing 600 million to 1 billion doses per year in a bid to match the expected high international requirement.
He said it would be irresponsible for them to provide unrealistic timelines just to bring positive news to the public amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It's our responsibility not to raise too much hope. We need to be honest with the timelines," said Zinsou.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that, at best, it may take 12 to 18 months before a tested and licensed vaccine against Covid-19 can be released for public use.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening said China is already developing a vaccine, which may be available commercially by September 2020.
Zinsou said Sanofi has partnered with industry rival GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the development of a vaccine.
"We know that out of these hundreds of vaccines that are being developed, only a few will meet the safety and efficacy requirement to be put out in the market," he said. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)