The World Health Organisation on Thursday granted emergency validation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, paving the way for countries worldwide to quickly approve its import and distribution.
The decision “makes the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the (novel coronavirus) outbreak began a year ago,” WHO said in a statement.
The WHO’s Emergency Use Listing opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine. It also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organisation to procure the vaccine for distribution to countries in need, the global health body said.
The statement quoted WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, Dr Mariângela Simão, as saying, “This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines. But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere.
“WHO and our partners are working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards. We encourage even more developers to come forward for review and assessment. It’s vitally important that we secure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stem the pandemic.”
Regulatory experts convened by WHO from around the world and WHO’s own teams reviewed the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s safety, efficacy and quality as part of a risk-versus-benefit analysis.
“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 added.