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 worldwide 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 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.
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.-AP