The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that it has approved a coronavirus vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech for emergency use listing, paving the way for a second Chinese jab to be used in poor countries.
A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators of a product’s safety and efficacy and will allow the Sinovac dose to be included in COVAX, the global program providing vaccines mainly for poor countries, which faces major supply problems due to restrictions on Indian exports.
In a statement, the WHO’s independent panel of experts said it recommended Sinovac’s vaccine for adults over 18. There was no upper age limit as data suggested it is likely to have a protective effect in older people.
The WHO’s technical advisory group, which began meeting on May 5, made the decision after reviewing the latest clinical data on the Sinovac vaccine’s efficacy and safety as well as the company’s manufacturing practices.
The move was welcomed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, calling the vaccine safe and effective and noting its easy storage requirements make it suitable for low-income countries.
Ghebreyesus told a briefing: “It’s now crucial to get these lifesaving tools to the people that need them quickly.”
Branded CoronaVac in some regions, it is the 8th vaccine to win such a WHO listing to combat the virus and the second developed by a Chinese company, after the May 7 approval of a jab developed by state-backed Sinopharm.