PHARMACEUTICAL firm Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. said that developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could take 18 to 24 months.

“We can be confident enough in saying that within 18 to 24 months, we should have a vaccine ready for registration,” said Sanofi Philippines Country Manager Jean-Antoine ZinsouIn in an online briefing on Friday.

But he cautioned that COVID-19 is still being studied by researchers and scientists worldwide.

“A vaccine is dealing with biologicals. It means we are dealing with living materials which are viruses. Yes, we can project some timelines but there is no guarantee because we don’t know how the virus will react. When you develop a vaccine, there is always a risk of failure,” he said.

He added that even though developing a vaccine against the virus is urgent, Sanofi will still practice vigilance and follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mr. Zinsou said they began the early stages of vaccine development a few months ago. At the moment, they are doing candidate specification of the vaccine.

Sanofi has partnered with international pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). If they are successful in developing a working vaccine, they will need to produce around 600 million to 1 billion doses every year.

The WHO earlier said that it would take at least 12 to 18 months before a vaccine can be released to the public. — Gillian M. Cortez