On Friday, the World Health Organization approved the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use — the first Chinese jab to receive the WHO’s green light.
The UN health agency signed off on the two-dose vaccine, which is already being deployed in dozens of countries around the world.
The WHO has already given emergency use listing to the vaccines being made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and the AstraZeneca jab being produced at separate sites in India and in South Korea.
“This afternoon, WHO gave emergency use listing to Sinopharm Beijing’s Covid-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
“The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation, or SAGE, has also reviewed the available data, and recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, with a two-dose schedule.”
An emergency use listing by the WHO paves the way for countries worldwide to quickly approve and import a vaccine for distribution, especially those states without an international-standard regulator of their own.
It also opens the door for the jabs to enter the Covax global vaccine-sharing scheme, which aims to provide equitable access to doses around the world and particularly in poorer countries.
The Sinopharm vaccine is already in use in 42 territories around the world, fourth behind AstraZeneca (166), Pfizer-BioNTech (94), and Moderna (46), according to an AFP tally.
Besides China, it is being used in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, and Seychelles.
A clutch of other vaccines is on the road towards WHO emergency use listing, including a second Sinopharm product made in Wuhan — the city where coronavirus was first detected.
A decision is expected within days on Sinovac, a second Chinese-made vaccine already being used in 22 countries.
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is the next furthest ahead in the process.
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