By Eric Biegon
The World Health Organization (WHO) has included China’s Sinopharm vaccine in its list of approved Covid-19 jabs, and will now be used for emergency use.
Friday’s breakthrough comes as a substantial boost to COVAX program which has been running short of vaccine supplies.
While announcing the greenlight, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that the emergency use listing for the shot, developed in partnership with the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG), is for a two-dose regimen for all adults aged 18 and over, with a spacing of three to four weeks.
“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,” Tedros told a news conference.
“This expands the list of vaccines that Covax can buy and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval and to import and administer a vaccine.” He added
WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) disclosed that it reviewed the vaccine and found its efficacy for the symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79 percent.
WHO’s Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products Mariângela Simão said the addition of the China-made vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate Covid-19 vaccine access for countries especially seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk.
“We urge the manufacturer to participate in the Covax Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution.” She said
It is the first vaccine of any kind made in China to receive emergency use authorization from the WHO. The approval is a signal to countries that the Sinopharm vaccine is safe to use.
A study conducted in Abu Dhabi, where the vaccine has accounted for the bulk of Covid-19 shots administered since the start of the mass vaccination campaign, found it was 100 percent effective against death.
It was also 93 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and 95 percent effective against admission to intensive care. The vaccine manufacturer Sinopharm says its overall efficacy is 79 percent.
The vaccine has so far been approved for use in more than 45 countries, including Hungary, Serbia, and several countries across Asia, Africa, and South America.
Sinopharm says more than 65 million doses have been administered globally.
The listing represents an important endorsement of the vaccine, and Beijing’s commitment to roll out the jabs for the public good.