EU offers virus vaccine hope as leaders call for global access

France started the slow process of lifting its lockdown this week

The European Union’s medicines agency suggested Thursday that a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready in a year, as world leaders urged universal access to a drug in the battle against pandemic that has killed almost 300,000 people.

The call came as the World Health Organization said the disease many never go away and the world would have to learn to live with it for good.

More than 4.2 million people have now been infected with the virus, which has forced swathes of humanity into some form of lockdown and pummelled economies, prompting fears of a global recession.

Countries in Europe and Asia are starting to ease out of punishing shut-in orders, allowing people to get back to work in a bid to revive stalled economies and restore some freedom of movement.

But in Latin America the virus continued its deadly march, prompting some governments to tighten restrictions to stave off more carnage.

Leaders around the world are faced with the seemingly impossible task of reopening economies while avoiding a dreaded second wave of the contagion.

With the race to find a vaccine gathering pace, the European Medicines Agency said one could possibly be ready in a year based on data from trials under way.

Announcing the forecast at a video news conference, Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy, stressed that it was a “best-case scenario”.

“We know also that there may be delays,” he said, voicing scepticism over reports a vaccine could be ready as early as September.

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