Four European countries have signed an agreement with the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company to provide immunity to 400 million people by the end of this year.
This is the first agreement made by a coalition of countries to provide adequate protection to the entire European Union.
AstraZenca has already begun testing a vaccine provided by the University of Oxford, but it is not guaranteed to meet the needs.
The company said it would not seek to profit from the collaboration.
Dr. Peter Hotez, an immunologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, USA, is one of the contributors to the vaccine administered by the college he co-founded with the Children’s Hospital of Texas.
He says providing immunity is a long-term process:
“These big efforts are important. So I think some of them are mistaken about having a company that combines medicine – as if we had immunity in our hands.”
He also said: “The biggest challenge ahead for us – besides combining medicine – is that in the next year or two, make sure that the vaccine works as it is designed and does not harm its users.”
Dr. Hotez also said that there could be no way to collect the data of thousands of people who are being tested for antibodies in their body until it is known whether it actually works or not before at least one year.
This means that there will be no vaccine available for polio transmission this year, and the international community must make plans to continue protecting their communities until effective immunization is provided.