A researcher works on virus replication in order to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus COVID-19, in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, on March 26, 2020.
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  • A coronavirus vaccine will "most likely" not be ready before the end of 2021, according to the head of the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company.
  • "According to the most likely scenario, we will not have a vaccination before the end of next year," Severin Schwan, chief executive of Roche, reportedly said on Wednesday.
  • Schwan said that an antibody test would instead be the key to allowing people to return to normal life.
  • Antibody tests, which could be launched as early as May, will determine whether someone has had the COVID-19 infection.
  • Some leading researchers are more optimistic that a vaccine could be developed and rolled out this year.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


A coronavirus vaccine will probably not be ready for use before the end of 2021 at the earliest, according to the chief executive of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

Dozens of teams of researchers across the world are racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, in order to stem the spread of coronavirus infections, bring down death rates, and allow countries to reopen their economies.

However, Severin Schwan, Roche's chief executive, told a conference call on Wednesday that: "According to the most likely scenario, we will not have a vaccination before the end of next year," Swiss regional newspaper Basler Zeitung reported.

He said that antibody tests, rather than a vaccine, would be key to allowing people to return to normal life before 2021.

The blood tests, which Roche plan to launch on the market in May, will determine whether someone has had the COVID-19 disease.

That, in turn, could allow the population to gradually return to work because they will have an assumed ongoing immunity to the virus.

Some researchers are more optimistic about a vaccine being produced this year.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading a team of Oxford University developers working on one, said in the best-case scenario, her team could have a vaccine ready by September.

Gilbert said she was "80% confident" the vaccine her team is developing will work, "based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine."

"I think there's a high chance that it will work based on other things that we have done with this type of vaccine," she told the Times of London newspaper.

"It's not just a hunch and as every week goes by we have more data to look at ... I would go for 80%, that's my personal view."

Human trials of the vaccine her team have developed will begin on April 23, the UK's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week.

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