GENEVA – The World Health Organization on Monday built AstraZeneca and Oxford University Covid-19 emergency vaccine that expands access to the relatively cheap shot in developing countries.
“We now have all the parts in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director General, told a news briefing.
“We continue to encourage Covid-19 vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to the WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries,” he said.
A WHO statement said it had approved the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and Serum Institute of India.
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The UN health agency’s listing comes days after a WHO panel made preliminary recommendations on the vaccine, saying that two doses with an interval of approx. 8 to 12 weeks should be given to all adults and can be used in countries with the South African variant of coronavirus, as well.
The WHO review showed that the Astrazeneca vaccine met the “must-have” criteria for safety and its efficacy benefits outweighed its risks.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford shot is hailed because it is cheaper and easier to distribute than some rivals, including Pfizer-BioNTech, which was listed for emergency use by the WHO in late December.
Nearly 109 million people are reported to be infected with the new coronavirus globally, and more than 2.5 million have died, according to a Reuters report.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine make up the majority of the doses in COVAX coronavirus vaccine sharing scheme, with more than 330 million doses of the shot due to be rolled out to poorer countries from the end of February.
The WHO established its Emergency Use Register (EUL) to help poor countries without their own regulatory resources quickly approve medicines for new diseases such as Covid-19, which could otherwise lead to delays.
That COVAX The facility, led by the vaccine alliance Gavi, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemiological Contingency Innovations and the United Nations Children’s Fund, has said doses will cover an average of 3.3 percent of the total population of 145 participating countries.
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