Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Gets WHO Approval

The New Year 2021 comes with a new hope. World Health Organization (WHO) approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for developing nations- CNN reports on January 1, 2021. There are at least 50 coronavirus vaccine candidates in the approval process in the world. However, Pfizer-BioNTech takes the lead. It has already been administered among volunteer health professionals in the USA and the UK. The vaccine has been found effective to age group 18-55 in two 100 mg dosages three weeks (21 days) apart.

Previously, Pfizer received its first approval in the UK on December 08, 2020. The USA and other European Union countries then followed this with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). And now with the WHO approval, this means that developing countries without their own medical or health regulatory boards can start distributing the vaccine. Of course, the countries can decide for themselves. However, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has changed his mind about the Chinese-made vaccine in favor of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Although there have been concerns that wealthier countries have signed contracts to purchase large amounts of the vaccine, WHO assures that organizations like UNICEF will also have the right to produce the vaccine on their own accord and will have the right to distribute. UNICEF has the mechanisms to transport and administer the vaccine to almost all the developing nations in the world.

A group of immunization experts from WHO and UNICEF has met on January 05, 2021, to finalize the necessary distribution plans. They have also discussed the cold supply chains since the vaccine needs to be stored in 15 degrees Celcius.

It is a positive step towards ensuring global access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant-director general

While Pfizer-BioNTech takes the lead in WHO approval, there is hope that other much cheaper vaccines will be available soon. Following Pfizer is Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. It has already gotten approval from the UK regulatory board. Oxford assures that it’ll have 100 million dosages ready for distribution on a non-profit basis. Oxford-AstraZeneca has already started distribution from January 04, 2021, in the UK.

In the USA, Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has also been granted the EUA from the FDA. Yet, FDA stresses that all candidates must have the two full dosages. While UK officials have said that they would allow people to have two different vaccines within a 21-day interval in order to stretch the vaccines, the US FDA dismisses the idea.

Whether you take the Pfizer, Oxford, or Moderna, you should stick to the same vaccine for both dosages. Don’t take unnecessary risks.

Dr. Paul Offit, Infectious Diseases Expert, University of Pennsylvania

This is welcoming news considering European countries are on the verge of implementing stricter lockdown measures due to the recent uprise of the COVID-19 spread.

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Melissa Wright

Melissa Wright is a medical journalist. Her concentration is innovations in medical science and technology. In colaboration with National Helath Institute and FDA, she keeps her ears open to hear and write about any new medical breakthrough around the world.

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