Europe, North America have a ‘really clear’ need for Covid vaccine, says expert

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With cases of the coronavirus disease still surging in the West, countries in Europe and North America have a “really clear” need for a vaccine, a medical expert said on Friday.

Several European countries — including France, Germany and the U.K. — have had to reinstate lockdown measures to stem a resurgence in Covid-19. Over in the U.S., where cumulative cases are the highest globally, California became the second state after Texas to top a million infections, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed.

“An effective vaccine … in addition to continued distancing, masks and hygiene are going to be very effective in limiting the spread of Covid-19,” Jerome Kim, director general of the International Vaccine Institute, told CNBC as part of the annual East Tech West conference.  

The conference is being held this year both remotely and on the ground in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

An effective vaccine … in addition to continued distancing, masks and hygiene are going to be very effective in limiting the spread of Covid-19.

Jerome Kim

International Vaccine Institute

Kim, an expert on the evaluation and development of vaccines, said recent progress made on Covid-19 vaccines is “very good news.”

Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday said their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection. Markets globally climbed following the announcement.

Meanwhile, Moderna is expected to release in the coming days crucial data from its late-stage trial that will show whether its vaccine is effective.  

A syringe containing either the vaccine or a placebo is prepared for Tony Potts, a participant in a phase three Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna at Accel Research Sites on Aug. 4, 2020 in DeLand, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images

But some people have appeared reluctant to get immunized against the coronavirus.

A survey released in September by the World Economic Forum and market research firm Ipsos showed that around 74% of adults globally are willing to get vaccinated. Among Americans, that proportion is 67%, the survey found.  

Kim noted that people may be concerned that the rush to develop a Covid-19 vaccine could compromise safety. So there needs to be more work in assuring people that vaccines eventually approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are effective and have no serious side effects, he added.

“We have to be persuasive, we have to target communities where resistance to vaccination is already high,” said Kim.

“I hope that whatever the political situation two months from now as more and more vaccines become available, that we are ready to distribute the vaccine, to convince people to take the vaccine and then to actually be able to get it out there and get it into people’s arms.”

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