The World Health Organization listed Tuesday China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, clearing the path to more extensive use throughout the world.
It’s the second Chinese vaccine to be given the green light by the WHO, following the listing of Sinopharm’s jab for emergency use on May 7.
WHO approval is important as it means that the Sinovac vaccine could be distributed by COVAX — the mechanism for equitable distribution of vaccines — if a deal is struck. It also helps countries that don’t carry out their own full regulatory approval processes to distribute the vaccine.
However, the Sinovac jab is not yet in COVAX’s arsenal. In a statement, Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant director general for access to health products, urged manufacturers to participate in COVAX. “The world desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,” she said.
The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) said Tuesday that the Sinovac vaccine showed an efficacy of 51 percent against symptomatic disease and 100 percent efficacy in preventing severe COVID-19 and hospitalization.
Despite limited efficacy data for people over 60, the WHO said it’s not recommending an age limit “because data collected during subsequent use in multiple countries and supportive immunogenicity data suggest the vaccine is likely to have a protective effect in older persons.”
The WHO’s assessment of China’s Sinovac jab was originally expected in early May, but the WHO requested additional information from the manufacturer. The European Medicines Agency, meanwhile, began a rolling review of the vaccine on May 4, but has yet to issue a decision.
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