Serum Institute of India receives WHO approval for global rollout of Covishield

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AstraZeneca and SII will now work along with the COVAX facility to start the supply of vaccines across the globe.

The authorization will let the Pune-based Serum Institute of India supply Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine Covishield to the WHO-backed COVAX initiative. 

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) granted emergency use listing (EUL) for the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by India’s Serum Institute and South Korea’s AstraZeneca-SKBio. Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactures Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine Covishield. 

The approval was followed after WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) reviewed the vaccine on February 8. It recommended the vaccine for all age groups 18 and above.

The authorization will let SII supply Covishield vaccines to the WHO-backed COVAX initiative. COVAX initiative aims at ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines and around 190 countries have joined the program. AstraZeneca and SII will now work along with the COVAX facility to start the supply of vaccines across the globe, especially in low and middle-income countries as soon as possible.

The Indian newspaper The Indian Express reported that CEO SII Adar Poonawalla said: “We have been waiting for this final milestone. I am happy and relieved that with the WHO’s EUL we will be able to start the deliveries to African and other low and middle-income countries immediately. Countries with a large population must be protected as soon as possible.”

In a statement WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products Dr Mariângela Simão said: “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.”

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