On Friday, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist said in terms of most advanced development and  world’s leading candidate in vaccine is AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

The British drug maker signed its tenth supply-and-manufacturing deal this week. Researchers at University of Oxford, are behind the development of this vaccine. Large-scale, mid-stage human trials of the vaccine have already begun.

Similar to the WHO’s ongoing Solidarity trial for drugs, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan called for drug makers to consider collaborating on COVID-19 vaccine trials. 

In terms of their level of advancement and the stage at which they are, they are probably the leading candidate. There’s a possibility of having the results quite early. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was “not far behind” AstraZeneca’s, among more than 200 candidates, 15 of which have entered clinical trials. “We do know that Moderna’s vaccine is also going to go into phase three clinical trials, probably from the middle of July, and so that vaccine candidate is not far behind,” she said. 

“But I think AstraZeneca certainly has a more global scope at the moment in terms of where they are doing and planning their vaccine trials.” 

The WHO is in talks with multiple Chinese manufacturers, including Sinovac, on potential vaccines, as well as with Indian researchers, Swaminathan said.

An initiative by a WHO-led coalition fighting the pandemic called the ACT-Accelerator, is asking government and private sector donors to help raise $31.3 billion in the next 12 months to develop and deliver tests, treatments and vaccines for the disease. 

A “portfolio of research efforts” for vaccines was to be considered important, said Andrew Witty, Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator.

“It’s still very early days in this journey, we may be super lucky – which would be terrific – and have an early win, and even if it takes 12 to 18 months that would be without precedent, the world’s fast development of vaccines” , Witty said.