JOHANNESBURG—The World Health Organization approved AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Monday, clearing the way for the first shi
JOHANNESBURG—The World Health Organization approved AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Monday, clearing the way for the first shipments of free vaccines in the West’s main effort to inoculate the world’s poorest nations.
Many developing countries rely on the WHO’s emergency-use listing—which signals that a vaccine is considered safe and effective and that its supply chain has been checked—to authorize the shots at home. It also triggers purchase orders that Covax, a WHO-supported initiative, made with vaccine manufacturers.
The Covax facility, which is financed mostly by Western governments and charitable groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to supply some 2.27 billion vaccine doses this year to 145 countries, the majority free of charge. Doses produced by AstraZeneca and its manufacturing partners are expected to make up about a third of that effort, and more than half of the supply in the first half of the year.
“Today’s announcement…allows everybody to access vaccines,” said Deusdedit Mubangizi, who heads the WHO unit that approved the listing.
The initial approval covers doses produced by AstraZeneca and South Korea’s SK Bioscience. A separate emergency-use listing for the same shots made by the Serum Institute of India is expected to follow as early as Tuesday.