Geneva, Jan 1 (Agency) The World Health Organization has issued an emergency use validation for the vaccine against the coronavirus developed by the Pfizer and BioNTech companies, the first one since the start of the pandemic. “The World Health Organization (WHO) today listed the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use, making the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the outbreak began a year ago,” the WHO said in a statement on Thursday.
The Emergency Use Listing (EUL) opens the door for countries to expedite their own approval processes to distribute and administer the vaccine. It also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to obtain the vaccine for distribution in countries in need. ‘This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines. 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,’ said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products. ‘We encourage even more developers to come forward for review and assessment. It’s vitally important that we secure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stem the pandemic,’ she added.
According to WHO, the emergency use listing assesses the suitability of the vaccine as well as the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine was authorized for emergency use in the United States on December 11 while the Moderna vaccine was also authorized for emergency use later in December. The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to authorize the Pfizer vaccine emergency use on December 2. The WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11. To date, more than 83.1 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 1.81 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.