Finally, the World Health Organization has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine for emergency use and it now joins the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which was listed for emergency use by the WHO late in December.
WHO’s listing follows the interim recommendations on the vaccine by its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. The group recommended that two doses of the vaccine be used with an interval of 8 to 12 weeks and it should be given to all adults and can be used in all countries, including those where a new variant of the coronavirus is identified.
According to the WHO’s review, the AstraZeneca vaccine met the “must-have” criteria for safety, and its efficacy benefits outweighed its risks thus the approval.
Furthermore, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been hailed for being cheaper than most vaccines currently available and it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures. And because of this, it is easier to distribute than some rivals, including the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
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A statement by WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Monday said it had approved the relatively inexpensive shot produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (South Korea) and the Serum Institute of India. According to Tedros; “We continue to call for COVID-19 vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries.”
So far, nearly 109 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported globally with more than 2.5 million deaths. It is not doubt the world has been waiting for the vaccines to roll out.
Doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine make up the lion’s share of doses in the WHO COVAX coronavirus vaccine sharing initiative. WHO has promised to roll out more than 330 million doses of the shot to poorer countries from the end of February 2021.