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COVID-19 Vaccine Update – The WHO Authorizes the Use of the Pfizer Inc. Vaccine

The Latest

Over the holidays, the World Health Organization approved the emergency use of the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

Having been the first vaccine to receive approval by the FDA, the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. was also the first to receive WHO emergency validation.

The validation is significant as it now allows countries to accelerate approval processes to begin administering the vaccine.

As a result, UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization can also begin to procure the vaccine for distribution.

The WHO’s review of the vaccine found the vaccine to meet the WHO safety and efficacy standards.

Additionally, the WHO also requested that other vaccine developers come forward for validation.

COVID-19 cases continue to surge globally as countries struggle to contain the spread of the virus.

Adding to the urgency is the new strain from the UK that is considered more virulent.

While the validation is good news, the Comirnaty vaccine raises logistical and pricing issues. For many countries, the AstraZeneca vaccine will likely be a more viable option. More importantly, AstraZeneca has also engaged vaccine producers across the world to meet global demand.

The World Health Organization’s approval for emergency use of the AstraZeneca vaccine will therefore be a key step in combatting the virus.

Following the UK’s approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, India reportedly approved the vaccine on Friday. Argentina has also approved the emergency use of the vaccine.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 84,349,523.

In the U.S, the total number of cases has risen to 20,614,554, with the total number of related deaths rising to 356,401.

Behind the U.S, India has seen the total number of cases rise to 10,303,409, with Brazil reporting 7,700,578 cases in total.

For France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the total number of cases stood at 8,461,804, with 224,611 related deaths.

Across the United Kingdom, the total number of cases stood at 2,542,065, with 74,125 related deaths.

Governments expect the numbers to rise following the holidays, however.

What’s next?

Other countries are expected to complete COVID-19 vaccine review processes in the coming weeks.

With France, Germany, Italy, and Spain reporting a combined 8,461,804 total number of cases, more than Brazil, the EMA approvals are key.

Following the EMA’s approval of the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. vaccine last week, news hit the wires late in the week that the EMA needs more data from AstraZeneca.

In terms of production capacity, price, and logistics, there will certainly be pressure on EMA approval.

From Russia, Sputnik V is also in high demand, with Russia’s vaccine reportedly approved by Argentina. Russia is already delivering the vaccine to countries including Algeria, Bolivia, Guinea, and Serbia.

India and Brazil, however, are reportedly delaying the use of Sputnik V until the completion of more trials.

Concerns over the safety of the Sputnik V vaccine, however, has meant that the West remains reluctant to consider the vaccine.

China’s vaccine has also received a cold reception. Late last week China’s health authorities approved the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for general use. While the West has yet to show interest in the Sinopharm vaccine, the nations within the Middle East have begun to use the Sinopharm vaccine.

In spite of skepticism, successful clinical trials of both China’s and Russia’s vaccines would give governments an ever-widening number of vaccines to choose from.

The good news is that Johnson & Johnson should also be delivering clinical trial data this month.  A 4th vaccine from the West, coupled with China and Russia’s vaccines, would deliver an even wide choice.

Johnson & Johnson currently remains the front runner to deliver the first single-dose vaccine.