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COVID-19 RECOVERY

WHO approves emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine

A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a retirement home in France.
A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a retirement home in France. REUTERS - POOL

The World Health Organization has granted emergency validation to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, a decision that paves the way for countries to quickly approve its import and distribution.

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The US-German vaccine becomes the first to receive such approval from the global health body since the outbreak began a year ago.

"This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to Covid-19 vaccines," said the WHO’s Mariangela Simao.

"But I want to emphasise the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere.”

The vaccine’s emergency use listing comes after WHO convened its own experts and those from around the world to review data on product’s "safety, efficacy and quality”, weighing the benefits against the risks.

The measure will enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organisation to procure the vaccine for countries that need it.

"WHO and our partners are working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards,” Simao said. 

“We encourage even more developers to come forward for review and assessment.”

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