Nov 4, 2021 - Health

WHO approves Indian COVID vaccine in boost for global supply efforts

A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of Covaxin’s COVID-19 vaccine in Bangalore, India on June 9, 2021
A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of Covaxin’s COVID-19 vaccine in Bangalore, India, in June. Photo: Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday approved Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech's Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The approval should help with gaps in global coronavirus vaccine supplies, particularly in low-income countries, and boost the United Nations-backed COVAX program that's aimed at addressing COVID-19 vaccine inequality.

  • Without access to vaccines, people in low-income countries will keep dying long into the future as the virus continues circulating — increasing the risk of dangerous new variants emerging, per Axios' Caitlin Owens.

The big picture: The WHO said in a statement that Bharat Biotech's two-dose vaccine, which is made in India, is 78% against COVID-19.

  • The agency noted that the Indian government-backed vaccine is "extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements."

The bottom line: Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant-director general for access to medicines and health products, noted in a statement that vaccines are "the most effective medical tools we have to end the pandemic."

  • "But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of all populations, giving priority to the at-risk groups who are still waiting for their first dose, before we can start declaring victory," Simão added.
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