WHO authorizes China’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday authorized China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, expressing hope that it will boost global access to doses.

The move clears the way for the vaccine to be included in the WHO’s worldwide COVAX program.

What this means: “The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk,” Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant director-general for access to health products, said in a statement. “We urge the manufacturer to participate in the COVAX Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution.”

The WHO said the efficacy for the vaccine is estimated at 79 percent, though there are limitations in the data for people over 60 years old, because few in that age group were enrolled.

Still, the WHO said it is not limiting its authorization because “preliminary data” support use of the vaccine in older people as well.