WHO COVID-19 Emergency Vaccine List Aims to Raise Access to Poor Countries

ZURICH (Reuters) – The World Health Organization on Thursday listed the COFID-19 Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in a move aimed at accelerating access to the developing world.

PHOTO FILE: A nurse prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Hector Berlioz EHPAD (nursing homes and day care centers for the elderly) while France begins vaccination against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bobigny, France, December 30, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

The United Nations Health Agency has said it will work with regional partners to inform national health authorities about the two-dose shooting and its anticipated benefits.

The WHO has established its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) process to help poorer countries without their own regulatory resources quickly approve medicines for new diseases such as COVID-19, which could otherwise lead to delays.

The WHO analysis found that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine meets the “must-have” criteria for its safety and efficacy benefits outweigh its risks.

“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Mariangela Simao, leader of the WHO drug access program.

But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere.

The UN Health Agency, together with the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), are leading a global effort called COVAX to secure and distribute vaccines in poorer countries to ensure that shots are not just targeted at rich countries. .

The WHO-backed COVAX alliance has agreements on nearly 2 billion doses, with the first deliveries to take place in early 2021. The alliance has been in talks with Pfizer and BioNTech to secure the vaccine.

Even so, the challenging storage and delivery requirements of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, including keeping it at minus 70 degrees Celsius, have made deliveries difficult in Western countries and can pose greater obstacles for developing countries without adequate infrastructure.

The vaccine has received regulatory support from the United Kingdom, the European Medicines Agency, the US Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, Bahrain, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

Pfizer and the BioNTech messenger RNA vaccine have been shown to be 95% effective after two 21-day doses.

Reporting by John Miller; Edited by Dan Grebler