CORONAVIRUS

WHO Panel OKs Emergency Use Of China’s Sinopharm Vaccine

May 7, 2021, 9:59 AM
FILE: View of vials of the Sinopharm vaccine at Ricardo Palma clinic on Feb. 15, 2021 in Lima, Peru...
FILE: View of vials of the Sinopharm vaccine at Ricardo Palma clinic on Feb. 15, 2021 in Lima, Peru. The clinic received a batch of Sinopharm vaccines in order to vaccinate health wokers as part Peru's vaccination campaign against COVID-19. (Photo by Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization gave emergency use authorization Friday to a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinopharm, potentially paving the way for millions of the doses to reach needy countries through a U.N.-backed program rolling out coronavirus vaccines.

The decision by a WHO technical advisory group, a first for a Chinese vaccine, opens the possibility that Sinopharm’s offering could be included in the U.N.-backed COVAX program in coming weeks or months and distributed through U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and WHO’s Americas regional office.

Aside from efficacy numbers, the Chinese manufacturer has released very little public data about its two vaccines – one developed by its Beijing Institute of Biological Products and the other by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

The Beijing shot is one the WHO advisory group considered for the emergency use listing.

“This afternoon, WHO gave emergency use listing to sign off on Beijing’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhahom Ghebreysus said.

The Sinopharm vaccine will join ones made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and a version of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, in receiving the coveted authorization from the U.N. health agency.

“This expands the list of vaccines that COVAX can buy and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval and to import and administer a vaccine,” Tedros said at a Geneva news conference.

Previously, a separate group advising WHO on vaccines said it was “very confident” the Sinopharm vaccine protects people ages 18-59. The group said it had a “low level of confidence” in the vaccine’s efficacy for people 60 and over. Its members said they had “very low confidence” in the available data about serious side effects in that age group.

Sinopharm hasn’t published its late-stage test results in scientific journals, so the WHO requested a breakdown of its data, which come mostly from the United Arab Emirates. A summary posted online by WHO suggests the vaccine is about 78% effective, with the caveat that all but a few hundred of the study volunteers were younger than 60.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which co-runs COVAX, welcomed the announcement.

“This means the world has yet another safe and effective tool in the fight against this pandemic,” the alliance said. The public-private partnership said it was in discussions with several manufacturers, including Sinopharm, “to expand and diversify the portfolio further and secure access to additional doses” for countries in the COVAX program.

COVAX aims to send vaccines for free to 92 lower-income countries and to help another 99 countries and territories procure them. It was not immediately clear when the Chinese vaccine might be made available to the COVAX portfolio

The program, which has already distributed over 54 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines but faces limited supplies from Western countries and India, has been working hard to strike deals as part of its goal to procure 2 billion doses by the end of the year.

Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Program at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, said the WHO decision on the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine and other Chinese vaccines will “carry a lot of weight” because of limited information publicly available about them.

“The decision is also sure to be scrutinized all around for any whiff of political bias, and no doubt the committee members were very well aware of this,” she said, noting that the decision could also be a boon for developing countries in need of coronavirus vaccines.

“If there is a greenlight, these vaccines could boost the thin stream of supplies that has been channeled through COVAX to date,” she said, as the program has been hit hard by export bans limiting vaccine supply from India. India has kept those doses amid a surge of cases at home.

Moon also said if Chinese suppliers start channeling large volumes, “this would signal a step-change in their participation in global vaccine markets.” Before the pandemic, India was a well-integrated player in the global health vaccine supply system, but China was not, she said.

WHO’s decision on Sinopharm, months in the making, was particularly complex because the vaccine has not faced the high-level scrutiny of a rigorous medicines regulator like those in Europe and the U.S.

The WHO panel relied frequently on those Western agencies’ findings when it came to vaccines that it has already approved emergency use.

Many officials in countries without such regulatory structures rely on WHO’s emergency use listings to authorize vaccine rollouts for their populations.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese vaccines have already been delivered to dozens of countries around the world through bilateral deals as many scrambled to secure supplies after rich countries had reserved the vast majority of supplies from Western pharmaceutical makers.

While China has five shots in use, the majority of its exports abroad come from two companies: Sinopharm and Sinovac. A decision on Sinovac is expected next week, WHO said.

The Chinese vaccines are “inactivated” vaccines, made with killed coronavirus. Most other COVID-19 vaccines being used around the world, particularly in the West, are made with newer technologies that instead target the “spike” protein that coats the surface of the coronavirus.

Sinopharm said last month that over 100 million doses of its two vaccines have been used across the world.

Sinovac, by comparison, has shared relatively more data. Last month, a study published by a team of scientists in Brazil confirmed a previously reported efficacy rate of over 50%. A real-world study in Chile also last month found an efficacy rate of 67%.

___

Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, and AP Medical Writers Lauran Neergaard in Washington and Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.

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.
10 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.
16 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. 
24 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 Panel OKs Emergency Use Of China’s Sinopharm Vaccine