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AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Gets WHO Approval For Emergency Use

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The World Health Organization has approved AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use.

The UN agency's decision would lead to the global rollout of hundreds of millions of doses of the relatively inexpensive vaccine through COVAX, a global coronavirus vaccine sharing initiative targeting poorer countries.

WHO listed two versions of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use. The "two versions" are the same vaccine being produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio in Republic of Korea, and the Serum Institute of India.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford's vaccine called ChAdOx1-S has been found to have 63.09% efficacy. According to WHO, the vaccine is suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements.

Compared to Pfizer-BioNTech, which was the first vaccine globally to get approval to combat the COVID-19 and the only other WHO-listed vaccine for emergency use, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is cheaper and easier to distribute, which would help wider access of the vaccine to developing and poorer countries.

In a statement, Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, said, "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."

A WHO panel earlier had provided interim recommendations on the vaccine, saying two doses with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks should be given to all adults. The vaccine can also be used in countries with the South African variant of the coronavirus.

Recently, AstraZeneca- Oxford vaccine was found to be effective against the UK variant, while South Africa halted the rollout of the vaccine after a study showed the vaccine provided minimal protection against a new variant.

WHO urged all vaccine developers to submit the full data in a timely manner to carry out the WHO EUL process quickly so as to keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations across the globe.

As of now, around 109 million people across the globe have been infected by the virus that have also killed around 2.5 million. More than 210 countries have reported infections to date.

COVAX scheme expects to roll out around 336 million doses by the end of June, and around 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reportedly stated recently that majority of the global deployment of around 130 million doses of vaccine are in just ten countries, and that almost 130 countries with 2.5 billion people are yet to administer even a single dose.

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