WHO Approves AstraZeneca-COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford for emergency use on Feb 15, allowing it to be rolled out globally through the COVAX program.

According to a statement released by WHO, it has added the vaccines produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio and the Serum Institute of India to its Emergency Use Listing.

“In the case of the two AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines, WHO assessed the quality, safety and efficacy data, risk management plans, and programmatic suitability, such as cold chain requirements. The process took under four weeks,” WHO stated.

According to WHO, the listing allows countries accelerate their own regulatory approval for the administration of the vaccine.

“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference.

“We continue to call for COVID-19 vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries,” Tedros further said.

The emergency use approval comes a week after WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recommended the vaccine for those aged 18 and above.

The panel also said that the interval of the two doses would be around eight to 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, South Africa suspended the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine last week, citing “disappointing” results that showed “minimal protection” against the South African variant of the virus.

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