Despite these warnings, John Rountree is optimistic about vaccine access. John told CNBC, distribution and supply challenges are “much more solvable” than actually finding a vaccine that works and “we’re a long way” from having an effective vaccine.
“Equitable access requires collaboration between pharma companies, governments, and patient-centric organizations, but I don’t have any doubt that it will be solved,” John said via telephone. “Pharma companies have interests in profitability for their shareholders. Governments have interests in having people treated. We’re all in the same game, so it will happen.”
Likening the vaccine development landscape to the space race of the 20th century, John warned that vast government investments would not miraculously pave the way to an effective vaccine.
“Politicians can put aggressive timelines in, and it lends itself to putting a man on the moon,” he said. “In the end, you’re dealing with biology, which is a much more difficult problem than the engineering challenge of sending a man to the moon. And biology doesn’t follow timelines.”
There are currently at least 160 potential Covid-19 vaccines being tested around the world, according to the WHO.