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ZURICH, Dec.31 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization on Thursday listed Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, saying the move opens the door for countries to speed up their own approvals to import and give the vaccine.
Once a vaccine was listed for emergency use by WHO, the United Nations health agency said it “engages its regional regulatory networks and partners to inform national health authorities on the vaccine and its expected benefits based on clinical study data to date. “
The WHO review found that the vaccine met the essential criteria for safety and efficacy defined by the WHO, and that the benefits of using the vaccine to fight COVID-19 outweigh the potential risks, WHO said in a statement.
“This is a very positive step in ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines. But I would like to stress the need for an even greater global effort to achieve sufficient vaccine supply to meet the needs of people. priority populations everywhere, ”said Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.
WHO, in collaboration with GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), is leading a global effort called COVAX to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, to ensure that vaccines are not intended only for rich nations.
The COVAX alliance said it has reached deals for almost 2 billion doses, with the first deliveries expected in early 2021. The alliance said it was in talks with Pfizer and BioNTech to obtain a vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s messenger RNA vaccine was 95% effective in preventing disease symptoms after two doses 21 days apart. Delivery is difficult, as it must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
The vaccine has already been approved for emergency use in the United States and Great Britain, and has conditional marketing authorization in Europe and Switzerland, among other countries, where the distribution of vaccines intended for the elderly and the healthcare workers began in December. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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