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A medical worker administering a coronavirus vaccine in Nanjing, China, on May 7, 2021. Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The World Health Organization authorized China’s Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, making it the sixth vaccine to receive clearance from the global health agency.

Why it matters: The authorization will allow COVAX, the WHO's initiative to equitably develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines, to purchase Sinopharm's vaccine and bolster its supply, according to the New York Times.

Context: Sinopharm is the first Chinese shot to be classified as safe and effective by the WHO, though the company has not released Phase 3 clinical trial data for scientists to independently assess.

  • The WHO received the results of the trial before the authorization of Sinopharm's vaccine, which is owned by the Chinese government.
  • Some WHO experts voiced "very low confidence" in data regarding the risks of side effects associated with the vaccine, but overall confidence in its efficacy, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: "This expands the list of [COVID-19] vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

What's next: The WHO will consider emergency approval for another Chinese vaccine, made by the company Sinovac, next week, according to the Times.

Go deeper: U.S. could fill "vaccine diplomacy" void as other powers struggle

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
May 6, 2021 - World

Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue.

What they're saying: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production.

May 6, 2021 - Health

Countries testing J&J vaccine doses after contamination at Baltimore plant

The Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The European Union, Canada and South Africa are withholding Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines produced at an Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore, Maryland, for safety testing after quality-control problems, according to the New York Times.

Driving the news: Johnson & Johnson said in March that workers at the Emergent facility, which had been producing Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, had ruined about 15 million doses of its vaccine by contaminating a batch with ingredients used in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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