The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday approved AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s Coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, days after a panel of experts provided interim recommendations on the vaccine in settings where variants of the coronavirus are circulating.
“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, told a news briefing.
WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India, paves the way for the vaccine to be rolled out globally through the COVAX facility and in particular in poorer countries which could face delays, due to their their own insufficient regulatory resources.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the COVAX Facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” said Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.
“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere and facilitate global access. To do that, we need two things – a scale-up of manufacturing capacity, and developers’ early submission of their vaccines for WHO review,” she added.