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WHO lists Pfizer vaccine as the first for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use Thursday, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the organization.

The approval could make it possible for other countries to expedite their authorizations of the vaccine, allowing the quick administration of the inoculation to populations, Axios reported

Now that WHO has approved the vaccine, UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization will be able to obtain and distribute the vaccine to countries that need it, according to the outlet. 

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“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said the WHO’s assistant-director general Mariângela Simão. 

“But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” 

"It’s vitally important that we secure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stem the pandemic," Simão added.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer vaccine. An FDA advisory panel at the time published documents stating that the vaccine was highly effective (about 95 percent) in preventing contraction of coronavirus. 

Following its approval, the vaccine was rolled out and administered to at-risk individuals and health care workers in the U.S. However, the Trump administration has fallen behind in its progress to achieve a goal of getting 20 million shots administered by the end of the year. 

Health experts have warned that many poorer countries will likely have to wait to receive a coronavirus vaccine as richer countries like Canada pre-pay for surplus amounts of vaccines.

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The timing in which the vaccines are distributed is crucial to stamping out the pandemic, according to researchers.

Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyBiden to ban most non-US citizens traveling from South Africa over new COVID-19 variant: report Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus CDC gets a second opinion: Seven steps to heal our COVID-19 response MORE, President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE's pick to lead the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated as much in her research of coronavirus vaccines.

Using a model she developed in partnership with Yale University, Walensky concluded that regardless of how effective a vaccine is, the product may lose effectiveness in a population if the rollout takes too long.

"Say you have for all intents and purposes a 100 percent efficacious vaccine but it takes six months to roll out to 50 percent of the population,” she told the Harvard Crimson. “If you only get it to 50 percent of the population, your coverage drops to 50 percent immediately.”