The World Health Organization said Friday it has listed the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm for emergency use, allowing it to be rolled out across the world. The vaccine, which is made by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group, “has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk,” said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products. Simão said the agency will encourage the manufacturer to participate in the WHO’s Covax program, which aims to get vaccines to poorer countries, that are lagging in the global vaccine push due to a lack of supply. The WHO has already granted emergency use authorization to vaccines developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech , AstraZeneca , Serum Institute of India, J&J unit Janssen and Moderna . Earlier this week, Reuters reported that a document it had obtained suggested the WHO had “very low confidence” in data provided by Sinopharm on its COVID vaccine regarding the risk of serious side effects in some patients. On Friday, the WHO said its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, or SAGE, conducted on-site inspections at the production facility before reaching their decision. SAGE is recommending the vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older in a two-dose regimen, separated by three to four weeks. Vaccine efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79%, all age groups combined.
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