WHO outlines three groups prioritised for virus vaccine

Frontline workers, including health professionals and drivers, should be among the first to be immunised once a coronavirus vaccine has been developed, the World Health Organisation says.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, WHO Deputy Director-General Soumya Swaminathan said people with existing health issues should also be prioritised, along with people who work in areas that have been the site of large outbreaks, including meat processing factories, prisons, and nursing homes.

Picture: AP/Ted S Warren

The comments come as questions have been raised over how a vaccine may eventually be distributed across the world.

“We have this beautiful picture of everyone getting the vaccine, but there is no road map on how to do it,” said Yuan Qiong Hu, a senior legal and policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders in Geneva.

Ms Hu said few measures had been taken so far to resolve numerous problems that could affect fair distribution.

Meanwhile, rich countries have been rushing to place advance orders to guarantee their citizens get jabbed first, leaving significant questions over when developing countries will get access.

The WHO says there has been “huge activity” in the development of a coronavirus vaccine over the last few months, with 200 possible options on the table.

There are currently 10 in human testing, with three of those having moved on to stage three, Dr Swaminathan said.

“Our goal is to accelerate the development of the vaccine but to make sure it fair and equitable,” she said.

– With wires

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