At a time when the majority of the countries in the world are yet to approve a vaccine for COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its nod to the jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The development essentially means that low-income countries may soon get access to the ‘costly’ vaccine that is already being administered in the US and the UK among several other countries.
While all countries have their own regulators for approval, the poorer countries usually rely on WHO for vetting of vaccines. WHO said that the emergency use authorisation granted to the Pfizer vaccine will aid several countries in speeding up their own regulatory approval process so that citizens can be vaccinated.
Vaccine already cleared by several countries
The UN health agency said its review found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, the European Union, Saudi Arabia and a dozen other countries, “met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO”.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures, a big hurdle for developing countries where the required freezers and reliable electricity supply may not be available.
“This requirement makes the vaccine more challenging to deploy in settings where ultra-cold chain equipment may not be available or reliably accessible,” WHO said, adding that it was “working to support countries in assessing their delivery plans and preparing for use where possible”.
Indian regulator likely to clear AstraZeneca vaccine
An experts committee of the Indian regulator is meeting today to discuss the approval for emergency use of the AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India. Two other companies—Pfizer and Bharat Biotech have also applied to the regulator for clearance of their vaccines.
India is likely to run one of the biggest vaccination drives in the world starting January, the government announced. A dry run for the same will be carried out in all states on January 2.
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