By Abigirl Tembo Health Editor
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) today listed the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for this vaccine to be rolled out globally.
Zimbabwe is among some of the countries using the Sinopharm vaccine which is being produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG).
According to Dr Mariângela Simão, the WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products.
“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk, We urge the manufacturer to participate in the COVAX Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution.”
WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
The EUL assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as risk management plans and programmatic suitability, such as cold chain requirements. The assessment is performed by the product evaluation group, composed by regulatory experts from around the world and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), in charge of performing the risk-benefit assessment for an independent recommendation on whether a vaccine can be listed for emergency use and, if so, under which conditions.
In the case of the Sinopharm vaccine, the WHO assessment included on-site inspections of the production facility.
Zimbabwean rolled out its COVID-19 inoculation programme on the 18th of February this year following the arrival of the first consignment of the Sinopharm vaccines donated by the Chinese government.
The vaccination drive aims to inoculate at least 10 million of the country’s 16 million citizens to achieve herd immunity.
So far, 500 422 people have received their first dose while 140 340 have had their second dose. Sinopharm is the first vaccine developed by a non-Western country to get WHO backing.