As countries race to find a coronavirus cure, Germany's research minister has said any vaccine was unlikely to be available until the middle of 2021 at the earliest.
“We should not expect a miracle,” Anja Karliczek told a news conference on Wednesday.
“We must continue to assume that vaccines for the broader population will only be available from the middle of next year at the earliest.”
Karliczek said Germany was providing funding grants to three German biotech firms — CureVac from Tübingen, BioNTech from Mainz and Dessau-based IDT Biologika so they could speed up the development of coronavirus vaccine candidates.
“All three of them are promising candidates but we must of course always expect setbacks during the testing phase because it’s one thing to have an effective vaccine but it’s another to have a safe vaccine that people want,” the minister said.
More than 200 candidate vaccines are being developed with 23 having progressed to clinical trials with human volunteers.
Germany's BioNTech is one of the latest candidates to enter Phase 3 clinical trials — the final regulatory hurdle before approval.
Meanwhile, Russia is reportedly on track to approve a vaccine as early as August, according to reports.
Vice Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on Wednesday that Russia hopes to start manufacturing its two vaccines currently under development on an industrial scale by October.
The United States, the European Union and the UK have been making pre-orders with pharmaceutical companies in the hope of protecting their populations from COVID-19 and shielding their economies from further costly lockdowns.
But health advocates have voiced concern that the scramble to snap up supplies could lead to poorer nations losing out.
In May, EU and world leaders pledged billions to speed up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and committed to ensuring it is made affordable and available to all.
Last month, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca for up to 400 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, which is currently being tested by the University of Oxford.
The first deliveries are set to start by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the UK signed a deal with GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday.
The United States has been pumping billions into research and has enrolled the military in its drive to get hold of a COVID-19 vaccine. It launched "Operation Warp Speed," a private-public partnership funding pharmaceutical research that aims to secure at least 300 million doses of such a vaccine for Americans by January 2021.