WHO okays Sinopharm vaccine
GENEVA, May 7: The World Health Organization announced on Friday it had approved a Covid -19 vaccine from China's state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm for emergency use.
The vaccine, one of two main Chinese shots that collectively have already been given to hundreds of millions of people in China and abroad, becomes the first Covid-19 shot developed by a non-Western country to win the WHO's backing.
It is also the first time the WHO has given emergency use approval to any Chinese vaccine for any infectious disease.
A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators on a product's safety and efficacy, and would allow the shot to be included in COVAX, the global programme to provide vaccines mainly for poor countries.
The WHO has previously
given emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and, last week, Moderna.
Rich countries are hoarding doses. India, a major vaccine maker, has stopped exports to address its worsening coronavirus crisis. Questions about safety after exceedingly rare side effects led some countries to briefly pause using AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson doses or change their guidance around the use.
Reliable vaccine access could improve further next week when the WHO considers another Chinese shot, made by the company Sinovac, The New York Times reports.
Andrea Taylor, who analyses global data on vaccines at the Duke Global Health Institute, called the potential addition of two Chinese vaccines into the COVAX programme a "game changer".
"The situation right now is just so desperate for low- and lower-middle-income countries that any doses we can get out are worth mobilising," Taylor said. "Having potentially two options coming from China could really change the landscape of what's possible over the next few months."
For China, the approval represents a high point in its vaccine diplomacy efforts and a chance to fill the gap left by Western nations and pharmaceutical companies in low- and middle-income countries. Sinopharm is the first Chinese shot to be classified as safe and effective by the WHO, and its approval could ease concerns about the lack of transparency from Chinese vaccine companies.
Regulators from China and other countries have approved the Sinopharm vaccine in recent months, though the company has not released Phase 3 clinical trial data for scientists to independently assess.
The WHO was given access to this data before the announcement, but there is limited data on how well the vaccine will work against the many coronavirus variants cropping up around the world. -Reuters