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WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization authorized China’s Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, making it the sixth vaccine to receive clearance from the global health agency.

Why it matters: The authorization will allow COVAX, the WHO's initiative to equitably develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines, to purchase Sinopharm's vaccine and bolster its supply, according to the New York Times.

Context: Sinopharm is the first Chinese shot to be classified as safe and effective by the WHO, though the company has not released Phase 3 clinical trial data for scientists to independently assess.

  • The WHO received the results of the trial before the authorization of Sinopharm's vaccine, which is owned by the Chinese government.
  • Some WHO experts voiced "very low confidence" in data regarding the risks of side effects associated with the vaccine, but overall confidence in its efficacy, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: "This expands the list of [COVID-19] vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

What's next: The WHO will consider emergency approval for another Chinese vaccine, made by the company Sinovac, next week, according to the Times.

Go deeper: U.S. could fill "vaccine diplomacy" void as other powers struggle

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