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Sinopharm: WHO approves Chinese vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization approved Sinopharm, a Chinese vaccine, for emergency use in coronavirus patients on Friday.

It’s the first vaccine developed by a non-Western nation to receive approval from the World Health Organization. Only Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna vaccines had previously been approved by the WHO.

The two-dose vaccine was approved by the UN health agency and is now being used in hundreds of countries around the world. This step could support Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy in the wake of a surge in coronavirus vaccines in a number of countries.

The vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the AstraZeneca jab made at sites in India and South Korea, which it counts separately, have already been granted emergency use listing by the WHO.

Millions of people in China and others has already received the Sinopharm vaccine. According to Reuters, it is one of two vaccines Beijing is using in its inoculation program.

According to Reuters, the vaccine’s manufacturer, Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group, stated that preliminary data showed the vaccine was 79.34 percent successful in preventing people from developing Covid-19.

However, no comprehensive efficacy data for Sinopharm’s vaccine has been made available.

“This afternoon, WHO gave emergency use listing to Sinopharm Beijing’s Covid-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.

“The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation, or SAGE, has also reviewed the available data, and recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, with a two-dose schedule.”

“This expands the list of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing.

Senior WHO Adviser Bruce Aylward said it would be up to Sinopharm to say how many doses of its vaccine it can provide to the COVAX program. “They are looking at trying to provide substantial support, make substantial doses available while at the same time of course trying to serve China’s population,” he added.

The Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia is the next step in the process.

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