China could have a coronavirus vaccine ready for public release by early next year — and one for “emergency” use as soon as September, one of the country’s top health officials said.
Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, told state-run media that the country could have a vaccine available in time for a potential second wave of outbreaks, the South China Morning Post reports.
“We are in the frontline for the vaccine development, and we may have a vaccine ready for emergency use by September,” Gao told China Global Television Network.
“These newly developed vaccines, which are still under phase two or phase three clinical trials, could be used for some special groups of people, for example, health care workers.”
Gao added that Chinese scientists may also have a vaccine for the healthy population “early next year.”
His statement marked the first time a Chinese official has set a time frame for the development of a COVID-19 inoculation, according to the paper.
The US Food and Drug Administration has said the release of a vaccine in the US is likely at least a year away while the World Health Organization estimated that it will take up to 18 months.
The mumps vaccine — considered the fastest vaccine ever approved — took four years to go from development stages to licensing in 1967, according to National Geographic.
A vaccine is considered the key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 2.7 million people and killed at least 195,000 people worldwide so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.