New York: The World Health Organization (WHO) on December 17 approved the Covovax vaccine for emergency use listing (EUL), elevating to nine the number of immunizations approved to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vaccine is produced by the Serum Institute of India, under license from Novavax, and will now be part of the COVAX facility portfolio, boosting efforts to vaccinate more people in lower-income countries.
WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, Dr. Mariângela Simão, said, “even with new variants emerging, vaccines remain one of the most effective tools to protect people against serious illness and death from SARS-COV-2.”
She said WHO hoped the new Indian-produced shots would increase access, particularly in lower-income countries, 41 of which have still not been able to vaccinate 10 percent of their populations, while 98 countries have yet to reach 40 percent.
A vaccine qualifies for emergency use after assessment of the quality, safety, and efficacy. The approval also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory process. The Technical Advisory Group for Emergency Use Listing (TAG-EUL), convened by WHO and made up of experts from around the world, determined that the vaccine meets WHO standards for protection against COVID-19, that the benefits far outweighs any risks, and that it can be used globally.
Covovax is a subunit of the vaccine developed by Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It requires two doses and is stable at 2 to 8 °C refrigerated temperatures.