The World Health Organization has approved the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, the second Chinese vaccine to receive the green light from the WHO.
The UN health agency approved CoronaVac, a two-dose vaccine developed by the Beijing-based company that is already being rolled out in several countries around the world.
“I am pleased to announce that the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine has been included in the WHO emergency use list after it was found to be safe, effective and quality assured,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom said Tuesday. Ghebreyesus, at a press conference.
“CoronaVac’s easy storage requirements make it well suited for low-resource environments,” he added. “Now it’s crucial to get these life-saving tools quickly to the people who need them.”
The WHO said the emergency use list (EUL) provides countries, funders, contracting agencies and communities with assurance that the vaccine has met international standards. Last month, Sinopharm became the first Chinese vaccine approved by the WHO.
The organization also granted EUL status to vaccines manufactured by Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca jab produced in India, South Korea and the EU, which are counted separately.
The WHO list paves the way for countries around the world to approve and import a vaccine for distribution quickly, especially those states that do not have an international standard regulator of their own.
It also opens the door for jabs to enter Covax’s global vaccine exchange facility, which aims to provide equitable access to doses around the world, particularly in the poorest countries. Currently, only AstraZeneca and some Pfizer jabs flow through the scheme.
“The world desperately needs several Covid-19 vaccines to address the huge inequality of access around the world,” said Mariangela Simao, WHO’s Deputy Director General for Access to Health Products.
“We urge manufacturers to participate in the Covax facility, share their knowledge and data, and help control the pandemic.”
“The WHO recommends the vaccine for use in adults over 18 years of age, in a two-dose schedule with an interval of two to four weeks,” the agency said in a statement.
“Vaccine efficacy results showed that the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51 percent of those vaccinated and prevented severe Covid-19 and hospitalization in 100 percent of the population studied.”
The Sinovac vaccine contains an inactivated form of coronavirus that cannot cause disease. It also has a substance that helps strengthen the immune response to the vaccine.
When injected, the immune system identifies the inactivated virus as foreign and produces antibodies against it, which will then recognize the active virus and defend the body against it.
Few people over the age of 60 participated in the Sinovac jab clinical trial. However, the WHO said there should be no upper age limit for the vaccine, as “there is no reason to believe that it has a different safety profile” in older generations.
The Sinovac jab is already in use in 22 territories around the world, according to an AFP tally. In addition to China, countries that use Sinovac include Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey.
Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to Geneva, said CoronaVac’s EUL status expanded the number of global tools to combat the pandemic.
“China will continue to work with the international community to promote the accessibility and affordability of Covid-19 vaccines, especially in (the) developing world,” he said in a tweet.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism