Dr Josep Baselga, head of research and development at the multinational AstraZeneca (one of the companies developing the covid-19 vaccine), told RAC1 that they have "started producing millions and millions of doses of vaccine before we know if it works". "The tragedy would be to have a vaccine and have to wait three months to produce it," he said, adding, "We, AstraZeneca, will have three billion doses of the vaccine by the beginning of the year. We decided that we will sell it at cost price, two euros a dose, and we have committed to making it available to everyone," he said.
Baselga said that, like AstraZeneca's, other vaccines are already in the final phase. "It is very likely that by the end of the year there will be results from one, two or three covid-19 vaccines," he said. About his study, the doctor said that they have "treated thousands of patients, more than 30,000" and are now "following up to see who develops the disease". "You have to compare the people who are vaccinated and those who are not to show that those who are vaccinated do not have the infection. This could happen tomorrow morning, we don't know, because we don't know the pace," he said, noting that 175 vaccines are in development worldwide, of which 10 are already in the final phase: "All vaccines are designed to demonstrate a 70% reduction in disease. By the end of November or the end of the year we will have the vaccine or vaccines," he said.
Dr Baselga said that two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine will be needed. There will be a 28-day delay between the first and second dose, although the effect will start after the first vaccination. Other vaccines, like Johnson & Johnson's, however, will only require one dose.
Dr Josep Baselga has said that the vaccine will not be the only solution to fight covid-19. "The vaccine will help a lot but it's not the only solution. Another very important solution is monoclonal antibodies. I estimate that we will have them by the end of the first quarter of next year. There are 16 in development and we have a very good one," he said. "Mortality from the disease has dropped significantly. A person who enters the emergency room with a lack of oxygen has a 90% chance of leaving the hospital alive," he explained. In addition, he also spoke about the immunity of people who have already passed the disease: "It is very clear that people who have suffered the disease have a state of lasting immunity. We don't know if it's a year or two, but it's not six months.
"We'll be able to have a relatively normal life by summer"
"We will never return to the normality we had until now. We'll have to keep a safe distance. Masks will be part of our lives. We will have to be careful with crowds because more viruses will come," said Dr Baselga, who added that "we will have a terrible winter". "There are some very hard months coming. But at the beginning of the year the situation will start to change and we will be able to get through it. In the summer we will be able to have a relatively normal life," he said. He also claimed that diagnostic tests will have to be done more often.
Baselga also defended the first wave's lockdown. However, he claimed that the easing of restrictions was hurried: in New York, unlike in Spain, for example, the opening of the city "was done in a progressive way" and that now there are "six, seven or eight cases a day; it's very little". With regards to Catalonia, he said that "it is not feasible" to close everything down. "We must control situations, close neighbourhoods, for example, but we're in this for the long haul", he pointed out.