The world health body announced the emergency approval on Thursday, as 2020 came to a close. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) will enable countries to expedite their own regulatory approval of the vaccine, and allow UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to buy it for distribution, the WHO said.
“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to [Covid]-19 vaccines,” Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO’s assistant-Director General for access to medicines and health products, said in a statement. She added that “an even greater global effort” is needed to come up with enough of a supply to meet the needs of “priority populations everywhere,” however.
The WHO is “working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards,” said Simão, urging other developers to “come forward for review and assessment.”
The first vaccine against Covid-19 in the world was actually registered by Russia, which had requested EUL from the WHO in late October for its Sputnik-V jab. That certification is still pending.
Pfizer’s vaccine was the first to be approved for emergency use in the US, on December 11. Moderna’s vaccine followed a week later.