CORONAVIRUS

WHO Authorizes AstraZeneca’s COVID Vaccine For Emergency Use

Feb 15, 2021, 6:53 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2022, 8:21 pm
An NHS staff member prepares an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination as over-eighty year olds receive t...
An NHS staff member prepares an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination as over-eighty year olds receive their vaccinations on January 26, 2021 at Stithians Showground, near Truro, England. A further 32 vaccination centres are opening across England as the rollout programme continues to ramp up. The latest Government figures showed more than 6.3 million people across the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine with a record-breaking 491,970 being injected in a single day over the weekend. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)

TORONTO (AP) — The World Health Organization has granted an emergency authorization to AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, a move that should allow the U.N. agency’s partners to ship millions of doses to countries as part of a U.N.-backed program to tame the pandemic.

In a statement Monday, the WHO said it was clearing the AstraZeneca vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India and South Korea’s AstraZeneca-SKBio.

The WHO’s green light for the AstraZeneca vaccine is only the second one the U.N. health agency has issued after authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December. Monday’s announcement should trigger the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to countries that have signed up for the U.N.-backed COVAX effort, which aims to deliver vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people.

“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk,” said Dr. Mariângela Simão, the WHO’s Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.

The coronavirus has infected more than 109 million people and killed at least 2.4 million of them. But many countries have not yet started vaccination programs and even rich nations are facing shortages of vaccine doses as manufacturers struggle to ramp up production.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been authorized in more than 50 countries, including Britain, India, Argentina and Mexico. It is cheaper and easier to handle than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs deep-cold storage that is not widespread in many developing nations. Both vaccines require two shots per person, given weeks apart.

Last week, WHO vaccine experts recommended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over age 18, including in countries that have detected variants of COVID-19.

But that was contrary to the recommendation from the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said countries that had identified a virus variant first seen in South Africa should be “cautious” in their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, suggesting that other shots be prioritized instead.

The AstraZeneca vaccine forms the bulk of COVAX’s stockpile and concerns were recently raised after an early study suggested it might not prevent mild and moderate disease caused by the variant first seen South Africa. Last week, South Africa scaled back its planned rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, opting instead to use an unlicensed shot from Johnson & Johnson for its health care workers.

COVAX has already missed its own goal of beginning coronavirus vaccinations in poor countries at the same time that shots were rolled out in rich countries. Numerous developing countries have rushed in recent weeks to sign their own private deals to buy vaccines, unwilling to wait for COVAX.

WHO and its partners, including the vaccines alliance GAVI, have not said which countries will receive the first doses from COVAX. But an initial plan showed a handful of rich countries that have signed multiple private vaccine deals, including Canada, South Korea and New Zealand, are also scheduled to receive early doses from COVAX.

Some public health experts called that “very problematic” and attributed it to COVAX’s flawed design, which allowed donor countries to double dip by purchasing vaccines from the program while also signing their own commercial deals.

“Canada has ordered enough doses to supply their population about five times over and now they’re looking to accept their share of doses from COVAX, which would otherwise be given to poor nations,” said Anna Marriott, health policy lead for Oxfam International.

WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has said rich countries that have signed up to receive vaccines from COVAX won’t have their requests denied.

“The COVAX facility is not going to penalize countries,” she said in early February.

After pledging more than $400 million to COVAX last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was always his country’s intention to get vaccines through COVAX.

Marriott said rich countries planning to take doses from COVAX should reconsider their intentions, given their earlier calls of support for the effort’s goal of equal access to vaccines for all the world’s nations, rich or poor.

“It seems quite hypocritical,” she said. “Rich countries with their own supplies should make the right call and not take vaccines from countries who are really in a dire situation.”


This story corrects that doses will be shipped by the WHO’s partners, not AstraZeneca’s partners.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

...
Ashley Moser

Flu, COVID and RSV all trending down for the first time in months, says CDC

Major respiratory illnesses are all trending down for the first time since September, according to the CDC.
11 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Josh Ellis

Utah doctor, others charged with running COVID vaccine scheme, issuing fake records and giving fake shots

A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others have been charged after prosecutors say they issued fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and injected minors with saline shots.
17 days ago
Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department, left, discusses schoolch...
Michael Houck

Salt Lake County ends its COVID-19 emergency status

After nearly three years, the Salt Lake County Health Department ended its COVID emergency status Tuesday. 
25 days ago
FILE: People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests a...
Eliza Pace

Gov. Cox, along with 24 other governors, call on President Biden to end Federal Public Health Emergency

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a letter with 24 other governors calling on President Joe Biden to end the federal public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
2 months ago
U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes guests to the East Room of the White House on December 14, 2022 i...
ZEKE MILLER, AP White House Correspondent

White House reveals winter COVID-19 plans, more free tests

The Biden administration is again making some free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. households as it unveils its contingency plans for potential coronavirus surges this winter.
2 months ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference, Feb. 1, 2022, in Miami. Gov. DeSa...
FREIDA FRISARO, Associated Press

DeSantis seeks grand jury investigation of COVID-19 vaccines

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
WHO Authorizes AstraZeneca’s COVID Vaccine For Emergency Use