The World Health Organization has granted an emergency authorization to AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, a move that should allow the UN agency’s partners to ship millions of doses to countries as part of a UN-backed program to tame the pandemic.
In a statement Monday, the WHO said it was clearing the AstraZeneca vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India and South Korea’s AstraZeneca-SKBio.Monday’s announcement should trigger the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to countries that have signed up for the UN-backed COVAX effort, which aims to deliver vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk,” said Dr. Mariângela Simão, the WHO’s Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been authorized in more than 50 countries, including Britain, India, Argentina and Mexico. It is cheaper and easier to handle than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs deep-cold storage that is not widespread in many developing nations.