By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) – The World Health Organization on Friday gave the green light to China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, approving the vaccine to be rolled out globally.
"This afternoon, the 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," said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.
He announced the jab at a twice-weekly webinar on COVID-19.
The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group.
"The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk," said Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant-director general for Access to Health Products.
"We urge the manufacturer to participate in the COVAX facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution."
The WHO emergency use listing is a prerequisite for COVAX facility vaccine supply.
It also allows countries to expedite their regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
The listing assesses the quality, safety, and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and risk management plans and programmatic suitability, such as cold chain requirements.
The assessment is performed by the product evaluation group, composed of regulatory experts from around the world and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
The TAG is in charge of performing the risk-benefit assessment for an independent recommendation on whether a vaccine can be listed for emergency use and, if so, under which conditions, according to the WHO.
"The Sinopharm product is an inactivated vaccine called SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell). Its easy storage requirements make it highly suitable for low-resource settings," said the WHO.