The vaccine will now be included in WHO’s COVAX initiative, which is providing greater and more equitable access to vaccines around the world.
On Friday, the World Health Organization approved China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, in an effort to aid many poorer nations who are currently undergoing surges of the pandemic and don’t have wide access to other vaccines.
The vaccine will now be included in WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative, a worldwide effort aimed at providing equitable access to vaccines.
Access to vaccines has been a running issue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as richer countries with more resources have been hoarding doses.
Prior to the announcement, the WHO was granted access to Phase 3 clinical trial data of the vaccine to independently assess. Sinopharm has not yet released this data to the public.
In December, the company announced interim data showing the vaccine to have a 79% efficacy against COVID-19.
The vaccine is the first from China to be deemed both safe and effective by the WHO.
Next week, access could improve even further as the WHO will consider another Chinese vaccine created by the company Sinovac.
“The situation right now is just so desperate for low- and lower-middle-income countries that any doses we can get out are worth mobilizing,” Andrea Taylor, a global data vaccine analyst at the Duke Global Health Institutesaid. “Having potentially two options coming from China could really change the landscape of what’s possible over the next few months.”