The World Health Organization endorsed the use of China-manufactured coronavirus vaccine Sinopharm.
“On the basis of all available evidence, WHO recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks,” the organization said in a press release. “Vaccine efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79%, all age groups combined.”
China’s Sinopharm is the first COVID-19 vaccine from the country that has been authorized to use by WHO. This approval might lead to the China-produced vaccine being included in the COVAX program, an initiative by the WHO to provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“This expands the list of vaccines that COVAX can buy and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval and to import and administer a vaccine,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhahom Ghebreysus said Friday at a press conference.
Public data on the vaccine has been limited and WHO reported that only a few adults over the age of 60 participated in the clinical trials. So efficacy for that age group is unknown.
However, the organization said “there is no theoretical reason to believe that the vaccine has a different safety profile in older and younger populations” and, therefore, “recommends that countries using the vaccine in older age groups conduct safety and effectiveness monitoring to make the recommendation more robust.”
The vaccine has less stringent storage requirements than some others approved by WHO. It also has a small sticker monitor on the vial that will change color if it is exposed to heat, “letting health workers know whether the vaccine can be safely used,” according to WHO.