New Delhi (NVI): The World Health Organization (WHO) cleared the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech for emergency use, to open the door for countries to expedite their own approvals to import and give the shot.
In a statement, the WHO said that it had “listed the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use, making the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the outbreak began a year ago.”
The decision to issue its first emergency use validation for a COVID-19 vaccine opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine, it added.
“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines, Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant-director general for Access to Medicines and Health Products said.
“But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” Simao added.
The UN agency on late Thursday also said that, as part of the Emergency Use Listing assessment, WHO had convened regulatory experts from around the world to review the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s safety, efficacy and quality.
They found that the vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO.
The organization further said that the announcement also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to procure the vaccine for distribution to countries in need.
Meanwhile, the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures, a big hurdle for developing countries where the required freezers and reliable electricity supply may not be available.
“This requirement makes the vaccine more challenging to deploy in settings where ultra-cold chain equipment may not be available or reliably accessible. It was working to support countries in assessing their delivery plans and preparing for use where possible,” the WHO noted.
Furthermore, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, the European Union and dozen other countries.