International – WHO ACT-Accelerator prioritizes global vaccine approach

The importance of a global approach to vaccine development and production, with a focus on collaboration, was a topic of a technical update and press briefing held 26 June by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The usual practices for drug development have been upended by the speed and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, said officials. “I’m very hopeful and optimistic that this will be an unprecedented collaboration that also sets a model for the future,” said WHO Chief Scientific Officer Soumya Swaminathan, MD, speaking in an update on WHO’s collaborative Access to COVID Tools (ACT) Accelerator project. “Companies that are traditionally rivals are sharing” research protocols and other data and processes usually held as confidential commercial information, said Swaminathan.

In response to questioning from journalists, Swaminathan acknowledged that Astra Zeneca may have the “leading candidate” in the race to a vaccine. “The Moderna vaccine is not too far behind,” she said, adding that “Astra Zeneca has a more global scope in terms of where they are planning their vaccine trials; there is an advantage for companies” who can plan for multiple trial sites in a variety of global settings…