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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Karwai Tang/Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Monday granted emergency authorization to the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: WHO's authorization "should trigger the delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to countries that have signed up for the U.N.-backed COVAX effort, which aims to deliver vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable," AP writes.

  • This is only the second vaccine to get authorization from the agency, following an emergency authorization for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in December.
  • The COVAX initiative, with more than 180 nation participants, is the global effort from the World Health Organization and other groups to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Details: WHO authorized two versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine — found to be approximately 63% effective.

  • Due to their "easy storage requirement," the agency found them to be suitable for low- and middle-income nations.
  • The vaccines will be produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio in Korea and the Serum Institute of India.

The big picture: The authorization comes days after WHO recommended the vaccine for adults ages 18 and up, including those older than 65.

  • People younger than 18 should not take the vaccine, as additional research results are pending.
  • WHO also recommended that "priority be given to health workers at high risk of exposure and older people."

What they're saying: "Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the COVAX Facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution," said Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant-director general for Access to Medicines and Health Products.

Go deeper

Feb 14, 2021 - Health

Study on Pfizer vaccine shows 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 cases

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A recent study by Israel’s largest healthcare provider found that after both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, people are 94% less likely to have symptomatic COVID-19 infections and 92% fewer cases of severe illness due to the virus, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Israel has been rapidly vaccinating its population, and the new study underscores how effective the vaccine is, as the data nearly matches Pfizer's Phase three clinical trial that showed the vaccine to be 95% effective.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Feb 14, 2021 - Economy & Business

The problem with vaccine patents

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Open-source the vaccines. That's the message being sent by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition that includes Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS.

Why it matters: Manufacturing capacity needs to be scaled up dramatically — and cutting out the need for laborious, expensive and secretive negotiations with vaccine patent holders could help.

Updated Feb 15, 2021 - World

New Zealand confirms U.K. coronavirus strain as city locks down

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday. Photo: Lynn Grieveson - Newsroom/Newsroom via Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday it was "absolutely right" for New Zealand's most populous city to lock down, after genome sequencing linked a COVID-19 outbreak in an Auckland family to a more virulent strain.

Why it matters: It's the first time the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the U.K. has been found in NZ. Auckland locked down late Sunday for three days over the three community cases amid concern it might be a more contagious strain.

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