WHO grants first validation of emergency use of Pfizer vaccine

GENEVA

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine on Thursday as the first such drug to receive emergency validation since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak a year ago.

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

“But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to get enough vaccine 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 COVID-19 cases and more than 1.8 million confirmed deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States.

On December 2, Britain became the first Western country to approve a vaccine against COVID-19 when it gave the green light to a product by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech. Russia has already administered its Sputnik V vaccine.

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

The WHO Emergency Use List opens the door to countries to accelerate their regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.

It also allows the UN 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 day and night to evaluate other vaccines that have met safety and efficacy standards,” said Simao.

“We encourage even more developers to come forward for review and evaluation. It is vital to ensure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stop the pandemic. “

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

On Wednesday, the UK drug regulator approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in the UK, making it the first country to do so.

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