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WHO approves 9th COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

To increase access to vaccination in lower-income countries, the World Health Organisation has issued an emergency use listing (EUL) for NVX-CoV2373, raising the number of WHO–validated COVID-19 vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus to 9.

The vaccine, named CovovaxTM, is produced by the Serum Institute of India under license from Novavax and is part of the COVAX facility portfolio, giving a much-needed boost to ongoing efforts to vaccinate more people in lower-income countries.

WHO’s EUL procedure assesses the quality, safety, and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for COVAX vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

In a press statement, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, Dr. Mariângela Simão noted that even with new variants emerging, vaccines remain one of the most effective tools to protect people against serious illness and death from SARS-COV-2.

According to Simã, the listing aims to increase access, particularly in lower-income countries, 41 of which have still not been able to vaccinate 10 percent of their populations, while 98 countries have not reached 40 percent.

CovovaxTM was assessed under the WHO EUL procedure based on the review of data on quality, safety and efficacy, a risk management plan, programmatic suitability, and manufacturing site inspections carried out by the Drugs Controller General of India. The Technical Advisory Group for Emergency Use Listing (TAG-EUL), convened by WHO and made up of experts from around the world, has determined that the vaccine meets WHO standards for protection against COVID-19, that the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs any risks, and that the vaccine can be used globally.

CovovaxTM is a subunit of the vaccine developed by Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

It requires two doses and is stable at 2 to 8 °C refrigerated temperatures. The vaccine uses a novel platform and is produced by creating an engineered baculovirus containing a gene for a modified SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The originator product produced by Novavax, named NuvaxovidTM, is currently under assessment by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). WHO will complete its own assessment of this vaccine once the EMA has issued its recommendation.

 

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