The World Health Organization (WHO) listed AstraZeneca – Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shot in the developing world.
“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale up production,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, told a news briefing.
“We continue to call for COVID19 vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries,” he said.
A WHO statement said it had approved the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.
“In the first half of 2021, it is hoped that more than 300 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to 145 countries through COVAX, pending supply and operational challenges”, the British drug maker said in a separate statement announcing the approval.
The listing by the UN health agency comes days after a WHO panel provided interim recommendations on the vaccine, saying two doses with an interval of around 8 to 12 weeks should be given to all adults, and can be used in countries with the South African variant of the coronavirus as well.