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coronavirus treatments Covid-19 therapy could come by end of year, vaccine in 2021

microscopic cells

Electron microscope image of Covid-19 (yellow) emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in a US lab

(Keystone / Niaid- Rml/national Institutes O)

Swiss pharma and business insiders predict that an effective drug therapy against Covid-19 will be available by the end of this year, but a vaccine might take a year longer than that.

“In the best-case scenario, a drug could be available before the end of 2020,” said on Monday Francesco De Rubertis, director and co-founder of Medicxi, a Geneva-based venture capital company that invests in biotechnology.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Le Tempsexternal link, De Rubertis said, “We should know by the end of 2020 if any of the vaccines tested are promising. If the answer is positive, a vaccine may appear in the second half of 2021, possibly in the third quarter.”

He noted that this time frame would be “exceptionally short” – less than two years after the appearance of Covid-19 – when it normally takes five to seven years to develop a vaccine. De Rubertis predicts that a vaccine will come from a large pharma or a large biotech company rather than a start-up.

Spring 2021?

Meanwhile, the chairman of the board of the Swiss reinsurance company Swiss Re reckons a vaccine will be ready “in the first quarter of 2021 at the earliest – and then it will have to go into mass production very quickly”. In an interview published by the CH-Media newspaper group on Tuesday, Walter Kielholz said that the world would not return to normal until there was a vaccine against Covid-19.

However, he said he could imagine lockdown measures being relaxed soon. “Why jewellery shops or furniture stores, for example, have to remain closed is beyond me. They could resume operations if the hygiene regulations were observed. This also applies to other shops, such as clothing stores,” he said.

During a briefing on Tuesday, Margaret Harris of the Geneva-based World Health Organizationexternal link said, “We shouldn’t really be expecting to see the vaccine for 12 months or longer.”

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This story has been amended to clarify that Francesco De Reubertis predicts a drug therapy will be available by the end of 2020, and a vaccine in 2021.

Keystone-SDA/swissinfo.ch/sm

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