The World Health Organization Friday approved for emergency use a COVID-19 vaccine created by China’s state-owned drug maker Sinopharm, the sixth vaccine approved by the organization, and the first produced by a non-Western drug maker.
At the agency’s regular briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) reviewed the available data and recommended the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, with a two-dose schedule.
Emergency use listing by the WHO is a signal to nations worldwide the vaccine can be quickly approved and imported for distribution, especially those without an international standard regulator of their own.
Tedros noted the vaccine can also now be included in the WHO-administered COVAX vaccine cooperative, designed to provide vaccines for the world’s under-developed nations. The program has been running short of vaccine. Sinopharm vaccine is already being used in many countries around the world.
The WHO has already given emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and last week, Moderna.
The WHO said it is also considering a second Chinese vaccine for emergency use, produced by Sinovac Biotech, and is expected to decide on it as soon as next week.