WHO approves China’s Sinovac Covid vaccine
The World Health Organization on Tuesday approved the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use — the second Chinese jab to receive the WHO’s green light.
“WHO today validated the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving countries, funders, procuring agencies and communities the assurance that it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators on a product’s safety and efficacy. It will also allow the shot to be included in COVAX, the global programme to provide vaccines mainly for poor countries, which faces major supply problems due to an Indian export suspension.
The independent panel of experts said in a statement it recommended Sinovac’s vaccine for adults over 18, with a second dose 2-4 weeks later. There was no upper age limit as data suggested it is likely to have a protective effect in older people.
The WHO’s technical advisory group, which began meeting on May 5, took the decision after reviewing the latest clinical data on the Sinovac vaccine’s safety and efficacy as well as the company’s manufacturing practices.
Branded CoronaVac in some regions, it is the second Chinese developed vaccine to win such WHO listing to combat COVID-19, after the May 7 approval of a shot developed by state-backed Sinopharm.
A third Chinese vaccine, produced by CanSino Biologics, has submitted clinical trial data, but no WHO review has been scheduled.
Sinovac said that it had supplied more than 600 million doses of its vaccine at home and abroad as of end-May and over 430 million doses have been administered.
Vaccine efficacy results showed that the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of those vaccinated and prevented severe COVID-19 and hospitalisation in 100% of the studied population, the WHO said.
The WHO’s separate Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) had said previously in a review document that vaccine efficacy in multi-country Phase III clinical trials ranged from 51% to 84%.
Indonesia’s health ministry said on May 12 that its study of 120,000 healthcare workers who had received the vaccine found it was 94% effective at preventing symptomatic disease.