WHO green-lights AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for urgent use


The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine made in two different countries is listed for emergency use, clearing the final hurdle for doses to be distributed by the COVAX program.

In other developments, WHO officials said multiple factors are probably responsible for a drop in global cases, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its latest risk assessment that countries are seeing an increase in the number and proportion of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Emergency listing clears last COVAX hurdle

The emergency listing announcement today came in the wake of last week’s WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recommendation for emergency use. Today’s announcement about the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine marks the second COVID-19 to be listed by the WHO, following its listing of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec 31.

Today’s listing covers two version of the vaccine, one made by SK Bio in South Korea and the other made at Serum Institute of India. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, the WHO’s director-general, said today at a briefing that the emergency listing process required two separate reviews and approvals because the vaccine is made in two different facilities.

“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines,” he said, urging more companies to submit their dossiers to the WHO for emergency listing.

Tedros said he is pleased that leaders of G7 countries, led by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are meeting on Feb 19 to discuss vaccine equity. He encouraged all groups to sign the WHO’s new declaration on vaccine equity.


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