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WHO Plans Slew Of COVID-19 Vaccine Approvals For Global Rollout

The World Health Organisation is expediting emergency approvals for several vaccines against COVID-19 so that poorer countries can start their inoculation programmes

WHO Plans Slew Of COVID-19 Vaccine Approvals For Global Rollout
Highlights
  • Regulatory approvals are key to confirming effectiveness of vaccine: WHO
  • WHO could soon authorise COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca
  • AstraZeneca's vaccine has already been approved for emergency use in India

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to approve several COVID-19 vaccines from western and Chinese manufacturers in the coming weeks and months, according to a document published on Wednesday (January 20), as the global health agency aims for rapid vaccine releases in poorer countries. COVAX, a global scheme co-led by the WHO, wants to deliver at least two billion COVID-19 doses across the world this year, with at least 1.3 billion going to poorer countries.

Also Read: Recipients Will Be Followed-Up For 3 Months After Second Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine Covaxin: ICMR

But the facility has so far struggled to secure enough shots due to a shortage of funds, while wealthy nations have booked large volumes of vaccines for themselves.

In the race to deploy vaccines, regulatory approvals are key to confirming the effectiveness and safety of vaccines and to boosting output. But some poorer countries rely mostly on WHO authorisations as they have limited regulatory capacity of their own.

The WHO is, therefore “expediting” emergency approvals, according to a COVAX internal document seen by the Reuters news agency.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) could be authorised by the WHO in January or February, the document says.

The same vaccine produced in South Korea by SK Bioscience could be approved by the UN agency in the second half of February, at the earliest, according to a provisional calendar published by the WHO.

As well as vaccines, regulators usually authorise their manufacturing processes in different plants.

SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla told Reuters last week he expected WHO approval “in the next week or two”. AstraZeneca did not respond to requests for comment, while SK Bioscience said it was not aware of the WHO’s approval timeline.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has already been given emergency approval in the United Kingdom, while decisions in the European Union and the United States are close.

COVAX has supply contracts with AstraZeneca and SII for about 400 million doses and an option for many more hundreds of millions, although the timing of deliveries is uncertain. The WHO authorised the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech at the end of December.

WHO officials have said they are seeking a supply deal with the US pharmaceutical giant, which has already committed hundreds of millions of doses this year to several wealthy nations. COVAX had not initially included the Pfizer/BioNTech shot in its shortlist for advance purchases.

Also Read: UN Agencies Working Closely With India As Country Launches World’s Largest COVID Vaccination Drive

Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment on whether a deal was close and whether it would involve only a limited number of doses this year.

The provisional approval calendar also shows the WHO is expected to approve Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is based on the same messenger RNA (mRNA) technology as Pfizer’s, at the end of February.

Moderna, whose vaccine is already approved in many Western countries including in the United States and the European Union, had no immediate comment. The vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which has a non-binding agreement to supply COVAX with 500 million doses over an unspecified timeframe, is expected to get WHO approval in May or June at the earliest, the WHO document says.

J&J has not yet published results of its vaccine’s Phase III clinical trials but the EU has said it expects the company to apply for approval as early as February. A J&J spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

China And Russia

The WHO is also considering possible quick approvals for two Chinese vaccines, the provisional calendar shows.

Sinopharm and Sinovac have filed their applications with the WHO, which is reviewing them and could make decisions on both in March at the earliest, it says.

Neither vaccine was shortlisted by the WHO for possible advance purchase deals. WHO approval does not automatically lead to purchases by COVAX. It could also facilitate the release in poorer countries that acquire the vaccines directly.

Sinopharm has filed applications for two COVID-19 vaccines but the possible March approval concerns only the one developed by its Beijing-based affiliate, Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co, Ltd (BIBP), which has already been widely used for inoculations in China.

Sinovac has yet to release global results of its Phase III trials but its vaccine has been approved for emergency use in countries including Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey.

Sinopharm and Sinovac did not respond to requests for comment.

There is no provisional timetable yet for the possible approval of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, despite its developers having filed the relevant documentation, the timetable shows.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the main financial backer of Sputnik V, did not respond to a request for comment.

Also Read: NITI Aayog Member Urges Healthcare Workers To Take COVID-19 Vaccine Shot, Fulfil Their Societal Responsibility

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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World

26,14,68,997Cases
22,22,61,229Active
3,40,08,183Recovered
51,99,585Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,14,68,997 and 51,99,585 have died; 22,22,61,229 are active cases and 3,40,08,183 have recovered as on November 29, 2021 at 3:42 am.

India

3,45,72,523 8,774Cases
1,05,6911,328Active
3,39,98,278 9,481Recovered
4,68,554 621Deaths
In India, there are 3,45,72,523 confirmed cases including 4,68,554 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,05,691 and 3,39,98,278 have recovered as on November 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,33,612 507

11,905 248

64,80,799 738

1,40,908 17

Kerala

51,29,359 4,741

49,152 957

50,40,528 5,144

39,679 554

Karnataka

29,95,285 322

6,783 143

29,50,306 176

38,196 3

Tamil Nadu

27,24,731 740

8,382 36

26,79,895 765

36,454 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,72,446 248

2,158 5

20,55,856 253

14,432

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,373 5

86 5

16,87,377 9

22,910 1

West Bengal

16,14,152 701

7,820 27

15,86,882 717

19,450 11

Delhi

14,40,834 27

290 11

14,15,448 37

25,096 1

Odisha

10,48,492 264

2,222 6

10,37,864 255

8,406 3

Chhattisgarh

10,06,733 27

326 7

9,92,814 20

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,741 26

187 13

9,45,599 13

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,382 28

291 17

8,16,999 45

10,092

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,120 23

112 9

7,82,480 14

10,528

Haryana

7,71,654 11

159 1

7,61,441 10

10,054

Bihar

7,26,212 3

39 6

7,16,510 9

9,663

Telangana

6,75,479 160

3,545 11

6,67,946 148

3,988 1

Assam

6,16,435 123

2,720 71

6,07,624 189

6,091 5

Punjab

6,03,190 17

313 22

5,86,284 39

16,593

Jharkhand

3,49,216 20

109 0

3,43,967 20

5,140

Uttarakhand

3,44,183 14

150 6

3,36,626 8

7,407

Jammu And Kashmir

3,36,386 149

1,724 5

3,30,189 141

4,473 3

Himachal Pradesh

2,26,941 82

809 18

2,22,287 97

3,845 3

Goa

1,78,839 40

275 9

1,75,183 31

3,381

Mizoram

1,34,279 358

4,117 110

1,29,672 466

490 2

Puducherry

1,28,860 35

326 5

1,26,662 30

1,872

Manipur

1,25,117 19

673 1

1,22,474 18

1,970 2

Tripura

84,784 13

89 9

83,874 3

821 1

Meghalaya

84,414 20

308 27

82,635 44

1,471 3

Chandigarh

65,443 5

52 4

64,571 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,269 9

37 4

54,952 5

280

Sikkim

32,211 4

114 5

31,694 9

403

Nagaland

32,100 4

135 1

31,269 5

696

Ladakh

21,494 27

249 6

21,032 21

213

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

1 0

10,678

4

Lakshadweep

10,394

28 1

10,315 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,680 2

5 2

7,546

129

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