A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccine Chinese Sinopharm. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccine Chinese Sinopharm. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

WHO panel OKs emergency use of China’s Sinopharm vaccine

One was developed by its Beijing Institute of Biological Products, the other by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products

The World Health Organization on Friday gave its authorization for emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinopharm, potentially paving the way for millions of the doses to reach needy countries through a U.N.-backed program rolling out coronavirus vaccines.

The decision by a WHO technical advisory group opens the possibility that the Sinopharm vaccine could be included into the U.N.-backed COVAX program in coming weeks or months, and distributed through UNICEF and WHO’s regional office in the Americas.

Sinopharm has released very little data publicly, aside from efficacy numbers for its two vaccine shots – one developed by its Beijing Institute of Biological Products and the other by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

The Beijing shot is one that was considered by WHO for the emergency use listing.

A separate group advising the U.N. agency on vaccines said it was “very confident” the Sinopharm vaccine protects the 18-59 age group but had only a “low level of confidence” of efficacy in the 60-plus. Its members said they had “very low confidence” in the available data about serious side effects in that age group.

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