WHO grants first emergency use validation for Pfizer vaccine

GENEVA

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday listed the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine as the first drug of this type to receive its emergency validation since the start of the coronavirus epidemic a year ago.

“This is a very positive step to ensure global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO Deputy Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.

“But I would like to stress the need for an even greater global effort to achieve sufficient vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” she said.

A year ago, when Beijing first identified a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which led to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no known cases outside of China.

But today, there are more than 83 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 1.8 million confirmed deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in the United States.

On December 2, the UK became the first Western country to approve a vaccine against COVID-19 when it gave the green light to one produced by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech. Russia had already administered its vaccine against Sputnik V.

Up to 50 countries, including the US and the EU, have now approved vaccines for emergency or normal use.

The WHO emergency use list opens the door for countries to speed up their regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.

It also enables the United Nations Children’s Agency, UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization, to procure the vaccine for distribution to countries in need.

“WHO and our partners are working around the clock to evaluate other vaccines that have met standards for safety and efficacy,” Simao said.

“We are encouraging even more developers to come forward for review and evaluation. Securing the essential supplies needed to serve every country in the world and contain the pandemic is vitally important. “

On December 19, the United States approved the Moderna vaccine as the second drug for use against COVID-19.

The UK medicines regulator on Wednesday approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in the UK, making it the first nation to do so.

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