SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The World Health Organization (WHO) approved for emergency use a COVID-19 vaccine from China’s state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm on Friday, bolstering Beijing’s push for a bigger role in inoculating the world.
The vaccine, one of two main Chinese coronavirus vaccines that have been given to hundreds of millions of people in China and elsewhere, is the first developed by a non-Western country to win WHO backing.
It is also the first time the WHO has given emergency use approval to a Chinese vaccine for any infectious disease. Earlier this week, separate WHO experts had expressed concern about the quality of data the company provided on side effects.
A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators that a product is safe and effective. It also allows it to be included in COVAX, a global programme to provide vaccines mainly for poor countries, which has hit supply problems.
“This expands the list of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing.
Senior WHO adviser Bruce Aylward said it would be up to Sinopharm to say how many doses of its vaccine it can provide to the programme, but added: “They are looking at trying to provide substantial support, make substantial doses available while at the same time of course trying to serve China’s population.”
The WHO had already given emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and, last week, Moderna.
“This … signifies that the quality, safety, efficacy and accessibility of Sinopharm CNBG’s COVID-19 vaccine meet the requirements of WHO standards, which will contribute more Chinese power to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sinopharm said in a social media statement published on Saturday.
(Esta Media Network/Reuters)