AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 shot gets WHO emergency nod

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AstraZeneca hopes that in the first half of 2021, more than 300 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to 145 countries through COVAX, pending supply and operational challenges

The World Health Organization (WHO) has added two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to its list for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through COVAX. The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India. WHO had previously listed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use on December 31, 2020.

WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for COVAX facility vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Commenting on this approval at a COVID-19 media briefing on February 15, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO said, “We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale-up production, and we continue to call for vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries.”

According to a press release from AstraZeneca, the company hopes that in the first half of 2021, more than 300 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to 145 countries through COVAX, pending supply and operational challenges.

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