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UN Health Agency Clears COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

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According to WHO, a review by a team of scientists at the UN agency found that the vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO and that the benefits of using the vaccine to address COVID-19 offset potential risks.
A team developing vaccines to fight COVID-19
The World Health Organization has given a green light to the Pfizer/BionTech COVID-19 vaccine to be used under emergency terms.

This is the first validation that the UN health agency has issued for any of the available three COVID-19 vaccines that have shown the efficacy of over 90 per cent, implying that it is effective in protecting people against COVID-19.

According to WHO, a review by a team of scientists at the UN agency found that the vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO and that the benefits of using the vaccine to address COVID-19 offset potential risks.

Dr  Mariângela Simão, the WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products says that the emergency validation is a big step in the right direction. 

"This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines. 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,” Dr Simão said.

She also urged more vaccine developers to put up their work for assessment and review,  “WHO and our partners are working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards. We encourage even more developers to come forward for review and assessment. It’s vitally important that we secure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stem the pandemic.” 

Getting emergency validation by WHO means the Pfizer vaccine is safe and can be used by people around the world.

The move opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine. It also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to procure the vaccine for distribution to countries in need.

At the same time, WHO is encouraging more developers to come forward for review and assessment to satisfy the critical supply for all countries globally to stem the pandemic.

Trial data of the vaccine shows that it offers 95 per cent protection against COVID-19 after two doses of the vaccine have been received, seven days apart. The vaccine needs to stored at -60 degrees.

Use of the vaccine has already been rolled out in the United States and the United Kingdom with over 2,000 people vaccinated to date.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization, with the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), are spearheading a global effort called COVAX to secure the equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries and not just to wealthy nations.

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