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WHO approves Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm for emergency use

ByMicheal Johnson

May 8, 2021

The World Health Organization has included in its list of emergency use the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm against COVID-19, the heads of the UN agency announced this Friday.

“This expands the list of vaccines COVAX * can purchase and gives countries the confidence to accelerate their own regulatory approval and to import and administer a vaccine,” said the Organization’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

It is the first vaccine to carry a vaccine vial monitor, a small label on the vaccine vials that changes color as the vaccine is exposed to heat.

For her part, Dr. Mariângela Simão, WHO Deputy Director General for Access to Health Products, explained that “the addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate access to the COVID-19 vaccine for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk ”.

Is about the sixth vaccine which receives validation by the UN agency for its “safety and efficacy”, having previously approved those of Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India.

Man Aihua

Medical workers at the Shenzhen hospital in China.

79% efficiency and easy to store

Sinopharm vaccine is produced by the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of the China National Biotec Group (CNBG).

Sinopharm belongs to the type of inactivated vaccine, also called killed vaccines, that is, they contain a culture of the virus but cannot produce the disease, called the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Its easy storage requirements make it well suited for low-resource environments.

It is also the first vaccine to carry a vaccine vial monitor., a small label on the vaccine vials that changes color as the vaccine is exposed to heat, letting healthcare workers know if it can be used safely.

The group of experts that advises the World Health Organization on vaccines, known by its acronym in English as SAGE, recommended for use by people over 18 years old, applying two doses with a separation of three to four weeks. The efficacy of the vaccine in preventing symptoms and hospitalizations is estimated at 79%.

WHO ensures that data for people over 60 are “scarce“But there is no reason to think that it would work” differently “or that it is less effective.

“We encourage the manufacturer and the national authorities monitor safety and efficacy especially among those over 60, for which we have little information; people with comorbidities, who are one of the groups most at risk of dying; and of course pregnant women, for whom there is no information, ”said Alejandro Cravioto, the president of the advisory group.

“When we have more information, we will review the recommendations, but for now there is no reason not to recommend it for everyone over 18 years old,” he added.

The WHO assures that the manufacturer of Sinopharm is evaluating the number of doses that it will be able to produce, but added that “it is trying to produce a very substantial quantity to help with the global response” against the pandemic.

The Organization urges the manufacturer that, once the prior authorization requirement has been exceeded, “participate in the COVAX initiative to contribute to the goal of a more equitable distribution of vaccines ”.

* COVAX is part of an unprecedented global effort to provide vaccines to at least 20% of the population of each participating country during 2021, in order to protect those most at risk of severe forms of COVID-19 and save lives. In America, 36 countries will receive vaccines through the COVAX Mechanism, of which 26 will do so with their own financing and ten will do so at no cost.

The Revolving Fund of the Pan American Health Organization is the mechanism designated by COVAX to purchase vaccines on behalf of the countries of the region.

COVAX is co-chaired by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and works in partnership with UNICEF, the PAHO Revolving Fund, as well as with the World Bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers, and others.