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AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Cleared for Emergency Use by WHO

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: A photo illustration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Copes pharmacy in Streatham on February 04, 2021 in London, England. A current investigation is underway to determine whether giving people a different second Covid vaccine to their first may provide extra protection, while also alleviating supply pressures. The UK has recently passed the 10 million mark in their first vaccine rollout. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

(Bloomberg) --The World Health Organization cleared AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, adding its official approval to a shot that’s expected to speed up inoculations in developing countries.

By Corinne Gretler
Word Count: 287

The WHO validated two versions of the vaccine, produced with SK Bioscience Co. of South Korea and the Serum Institute of India.

The formal approval follows a recommendation by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization to allow the vaccine to be administered to all adults over 18. That guidance differs from the approach taken by some European Union countries that have restricted its use in the elderly, citing insufficient trial data.

Many developing countries are waiting to give their first shots as wealthier countries have already inoculated millions of residents. Meanwhile, concern has been growing that mutated virus strains spreading across the globe may affect vaccine efficacy.

South Africa, where one of the variants was first identified late last year, said it would pause a rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after a trial showed it had limited efficacy against mild infections with the strain.

“Countries remain enthusiastic about receiving the AstraZeneca product, while at the same time asking very relevant questions about what the evidence shows and doesn’t show,” said Kate O’Brien, who heads the WHO’s vaccination division, in a briefing. “There are plausible reasons why we think they will retain activity against severe disease.”

The WHO’s authorization is needed for the global Covax initiative to send vaccines to participating countries, in order to ensure a product’s safety and efficacy for those that might not have the resources to make the assessments themselves.

The Astra vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, was previously cleared by regulators in the EU, the U.K. and other countries.

(Updates with concerns on variants from fourth paragraph)
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]
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