We’re moving into a new year with a more optimistic outlook – hopefully – as the World Health Organization finally lists the coronavirus vaccine of Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use.
WHO said it will work with regional partners to inform national health authorities of facts about the vaccine and its anticipated benefits.
The health agency’s emergency use listing was established to help poorer countries without their own regulatory resources to quickly approve medicines or vaccines for new diseases such as the coronavirus. Without the emergency use listing of the WHO, the use of vaccine in these countries would cause more fatal delays.
WHO found Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine meets “must-have” criteria for safety and efficacy benefits outweigh its risks.
“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s access to medicines program leader.
“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.”
The vaccine has gotten regulatory backing from the United Kingdom, the European Medicines Agency, US Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, Bahrain, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
The distribution of the coronavirus vaccines has always been the center of debate since pharmaceutical giants based in Western countries have announced the proven efficacy of their vaccines. As expected, rich nations such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada were the first countries to acquire millions of doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and other vaccine manufacturers.
Singapore this week became the first in Southeast Asia and one of the first few in Asia to implement a nationwide vaccine program.
Poorer countries, which have also been badly affected by the pandemic, are still in the process of securing funds to seal final agreements with vaccine makers.
The World Health Organization established COVAX, which spearheads global effort to secure and distribute vaccines to poorer countries, and ensure that the shots do not go only to wealthy nations.
The COVAX alliance, which also involves GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, has agreements for nearly two billion doses, with first deliveries due in early 2021. The alliance has been in talks with Pfizer and BioNTech to secure vaccine.