After Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, the World Health Organization (WHO) has granted emergency approval for Sinopharm, a Covid vaccine made by a state-owned company in China. Interestingly, the vaccine has already been given to millions of people in China, the UAE, Pakistan and Hungary. For the record, it is the first vaccine developed by a non-Western country to get WHO backing.
With little or no data available, the efficacy of the Chinese vaccine has always been in dispute, but the WHO on Friday (May 7) said it had validated the “safety, efficacy and quality” of the Sinopharm jab developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, reported BBC.
The vaccine’s efficacy is estimated to be 79%.
The WHO said the approval of Sinopharm had “the potential to rapidly accelerate Covid-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk”.
The Sinopharm vaccine has already been widely used, with an estimated 65 million doses administered, according to multiple reports.
As per the BBC report, the move to approve the vaccine for emergency use was made by the WHO’s technical advisory group, which reviewed the latest clinical data and manufacturing practices.
It said the vaccine’s efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalised cases of Covid-19 was estimated to be 79%.
The WHO noted that few adults over the age of 60 were included in clinical trials, so efficacy could not be estimated for this age group, but it added that there was no reason to think that the vaccine would act differently in the elderly.
There is another China-made vaccine, named Sinovac, which is awaiting the health body’s approval.
The Chinese vaccine differs significantly from some of the other Covid vaccines currently in use. As per the BBC report, these are so-called inactivated vaccines, which means they use killed viral particles to expose the immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.