A vaccine against COVID-19 may be ready by the end of 2020, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday while advocating investment in fighting against the pandemic.

“We will need vaccines, and there is hope that by the end of this year, we may have a vaccine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

He was speaking at the end of a two-day meeting of the organization’s 34-member executive board.

“So, investing in vaccines while implementing the tools we have at hand will be important, and they will give us better results.”

Currently, the WHO-led Covax global vaccine facility has nine experimental vaccines covering 168 countries as it seeks to distribute two billion doses to those who most need them by the end of 2021.

“The most important thing now is investing in or using all the tools at hand. And many countries have shown that with the tools we have, they were able to suppress and control the pandemic,” said Tedros noting that is why the WHO launched the ACT Accelerator.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is co-led by Gavi, the vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO.

“The most important tool is political commitment from our leaders, especially in the equitable distribution of the vaccines,” said Tedros.

Earlier Tuesday, the independent panel on COVID-19 announced by Tedros after pressure from countries such as the US submitted its first update.

After co-chairing the speech, US Assistant Health Secretary Brett Giroir said via video: “The United States appreciates the willingness of the co-chairs, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to lead the Panel.”

The co-chairs said in a document that the independent panel will review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO’s coordinated international health response to COVID-19.

These include the effectiveness of the mechanisms and the functioning of the International Health Regulations, among other issues.

On May 29, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was ending its relationship with the WHO following a months-long review he had ordered.

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