Dec 31, 2020 - Health

WHO lists Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

A healthcare worker giving a patient a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in Miami on Dec. 30.

A healthcare worker giving a patient a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in Florida on Dec. 30. Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Thursday listed Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The approval — the WHO's first for a coronavirus vaccine — may allow some countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes so they can import and administer the vaccine quicker, the WHO said.

What they're saying: In issuing the emergency use validation, Mariângela Simão, the WHO's assistant-director general for access to medicines and health products, stressed that the world should strive for more equitable global access to coronavirus vaccines.

  • “This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines. But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere,” Simão said.
  • "It’s vitally important that we secure the critical supply needed to serve all countries around the world and stem the pandemic.”

The big picture: The approval also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization to obtain and distribute the vaccine to countries in need.

  • People in Europe, the U.S. or other wealthy countries will likely gain access to the vaccine far before others in lower-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, do, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

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