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WHO gives green light to AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots

The World Health Organization gives emergency use approval to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines, allowing distribution to some of the world’s poorest countries to begin.

“The WHO today listed two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through Covax,” a WHO statement says, referring to the program aimed at equitable distribution of doses.

The two versions given the seal of approval are being produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and in South Korea.

“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the Covax facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” says Dr Mariangela Simao, the WHO assistant-director general for access to medicines.

“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere and facilitate global access. To do that, we need two things — a scale-up of manufacturing capacity, and developers’ early submission of their vaccines for WHO review.”

A box containing vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Foch hospital in Suresnes, France, February 6, 2021. (Alain JOCARD / AFP)
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