In a major relief for humanity, the World Health Organization has granted nod for emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to treat coronavirus infection. The development assumes significance as the world rings in the New Year with muted celebrations and new hope. The approval opens the door for many countries to begin vaccination programs. While many countries rely on their own regulatory systems for vaccine programs, several developing countries wait for clearances from the WHO. The approval paves the way for such countries to begin the processes to import the drug. Countries with weak systems mainly depend on WHO’s approval in such cases. According to the world health agency, the nod also paves the way for UNICEF to procure the drug and distribute it to nations in need.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first vaccine that has been approved by the WHO. Notably, several countries including the US have already granted emergency use nods for the vaccine. The WHO statement termed it as a positive step towards ensuring global access to the vaccine. It, however, noted that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs ultra-cold chain storage facilities. The drug needs to be kept at minus 60 degrees Celsius. Developing a strong ultra-cold chain facility for its storage is something where many countries face a challenge. This makes the vaccine more challenging to distribute. The WHO noted that it is working with partners to support nations in accessing the drug and planning the vaccine rollout.
Meanwhile, the WHO said that it is working round the clock to evaluate other available vaccines. It will grant emergency use approval once measuring their safety and efficacy standards. WHO said that it wants more developers to come forward with proposals for review. It said that the approval for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given after experts from different parts of the world cleared it. The vaccine meets the mandatory criteria for safety and efficacy set by the WHO. The agency said that using the vaccine will help minimize the Covid-19 spread. The UK was the first country to approve the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.