The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday granted emergency use authorization to the Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 18.
According to WHO, two doses of the Sinovac vaccine were shown to be effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in about half of those who received it.
“The world desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,” WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products Mariângela Simão said in a statement. “We urge manufacturers to participate in the COVAX Facility, share their knowhow and data and contribute to bringing the pandemic under control.”
Unlike the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, the Sinovac vaccine has “easy storage requirements” that make it well-suited for low-resource settings. Being added to WHO's emergency use listing will allow Sinovac to be included in the COVAX program, which donates free vaccine doses to low-income countries.
WHO noted in its announcement that the Sinovac vaccine trials did not have many people over the age of 60 enrolled so it is unclear what the efficacy in that age group would be.
“Nevertheless, WHO is not recommending an upper age limit for the vaccine because data collected during subsequent use in multiple countries and supportive immunogenicity data suggest the vaccine is likely to have a protective effect in older persons,” the organization stated.
The Associated Press notes this will be the second Chinese-made vaccine to be added the emergency use listing, with the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine being granted emergency use authorization last month. The AP also says there is currently no deal in place for Sinovax doses with COVAX.