WHO approves 'emergency validation' for Pfizer vaccine

 By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: News Week

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday has granted an emergency validation for the vaccine from American drugmaker Pfizer, paving its way for faster approval for its rollout and inoculation.

Britain started its vaccination last December 8, with United States, Canada, and other European countries followed the same.

WHO said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first coronavirus drug being approved since the disease's detection in Wuhan, China a year ago.

“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 that the emergency use opens the way to all regulators to approve the importation and distribution of vaccines.

It said it also enables UNICEF, which plays a key logistical role in distributing anti-Covid vaccines, and the Pan-American Health Organization to procure the vaccine for countries that need it.

WHO convened its own experts and those from around the world to review the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s “safety, efficacy and quality,” weighing the benefits against the risks.

“The review found that the vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO, and that the benefits of using the vaccine to address COVID-19 offset potential risks,” WHO said.

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