Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine gets ‘emergency validation’ by WHO

Geneva: The World Health Organization granted emergency validation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, paving the way for countries worldwide to quickly approve its import and distribution.

Britain launched its inoculation drive with the US-German vaccine on December 8, with the United States, Canada and EU countries following suit.

WHO said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the first to receive its “emergency validation” since the novel coronavirus first broke out in China a year ago.

The global body said late Thursday that the decision to issue its first emergency use validation for a COVID-19 vaccine “opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.”

The UN health agency said its review found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, the European Union and a dozen other countries, “met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO.”

“This requirement makes the vaccine more challenging to deploy in settings where ultra-cold chain equipment may not be available or reliably accessible,” WHO said, adding that it was “working to support countries in assessing their delivery plans and preparing for use where possible”.

“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to Covid-19 vaccines,” said Mariangela Simao, a top WHO official tasked with ensuring access to medicines.

“But I want to emphasise the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” she said in a statement.

WHO said its emergency use listing opens the way for regulators in different countries to approve the import and distribution of the vaccine.

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