HealthDay News — The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorization from the World Health Organization.
Monday’s approval for vaccines from the Serum Institute of India and South Korea’s AstraZeneca-SKBio could lead to hundreds of millions of doses being delivered to countries participating in the U.N.-supported COVAX program, which seeks to provide vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people, the Associated Press reported.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk,” said Mariângela Simão, M.D., the WHO assistant-director general for access to medicines and health products.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which has already been approved in more than 50 countries, forms the bulk of the COVAX stockpile, and concerns were recently raised after an early study suggested it might not prevent mild and moderate disease caused by a more contagious variant first seen in South Africa. Last week, South Africa scaled back its planned rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, opting instead to use an unlicensed shot from Johnson & Johnson for its health care workers, the AP reported.
This is only the second such approval from the WHO, which gave the Pfizer vaccine the green light in December.