AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine gets WHO nod for emergency use
In the first half of 2021, more than 300 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to 145 countries through COVAX, pending supply and operational challenges, informed AstraZeneca
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shot in the developing world.
“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“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,” he said.
A WHO statement said it had approved the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.
“In the first half of 2021, it is hoped that more than 300 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to 145 countries through COVAX, pending supply and operational challenges”, AstraZeneca said in a separate statement.
The listing by the UN health agency comes days after a WHO panel provided interim recommendations on the vaccine, saying two doses with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks should be given to all adults, and can be used in countries with the South African variant of the coronavirus as well.
The WHO’s review found that the Astrazeneca vaccine met the “must-have” criteria for safety, and its efficacy benefits outweighed its risks.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine makes up the lion’s share of doses in the COVAX coronavirus vaccine sharing initiative, with more than 330 million doses of the shot due to begin being rolled out to poorer countries from the end of February.
The WHO established its emergency use listing (EUL) process to help poorer countries without their own regulatory resources quickly approve medicines new diseases like COVID-19.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)