WHO approves use of India’s Covaxin in boost to global vaccine campaign

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The World Health Organization approved India’s Covaxin for emergency use on Wednesday, a move likely to bolster global supply of vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The WHO noted that the Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine is 78 percent effective against the virus at least two weeks after the second dose is administered. 

WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), which provides policies and recommendations on vaccines, recommended that adults take two doses of Covaxin spaced out over four weeks.

WHO noted that it is the eighth vaccine the organization has authorized for emergency use. 

The seven other vaccines approved for use by WHO are Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, two versions of Oxford/AstraZeneca, and China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac-CoronaVac. 

“This emergency use listing expands the availability of vaccines, the most effective medical tools we have to end the pandemic,” Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said in a statement.

“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of all populations, giving priority to the at-risk groups who are still waiting for their first dose, before we can start declaring victory,” she added. 

WHO said that because it is easier to store compared to other vaccines, the Covaxin vaccine was considered an “extremely suitable” choice for lower- and middle-income nations. 

The announcement is sure to be welcomed by the COVAX initiative, given that the Covaxin vaccine can now be distributed to other lower income countries, according to The Washington Post. India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. 

“The Emergency Use Listing approval by WHO validates the international safety and quality standards of COVAXIN®. Bharat Biotech is motivated to mitigate the worldwide pandemic,” Bharat Biotech, the developer behind the Covaxin vaccine, said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Tags covaxin COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccine WHO

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