On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through COVAX, the global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries. The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.
WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) assesses the quality, safety, and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
“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,” said Dr. Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.
In Latin American and the Caribbean, only eight countries were able to start their immunization programs against COVID-19 so far: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Bolivia, and, more recently, Peru. According to Our World in Data, these countries have distributed more than 8.6 million doses of immunizers so far – that is, less than 5% of the world’s total.