WHO approves Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The approval came with the increase in the number of cases worldwide, putting pressure on governments to accelerate vaccination programmes. 

The World Health Organization has classified the Modernas COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, the agency said on Friday, the fifth jab to be given the status meant to expedite countries’ own approval of shots. 

“The objective is to provide medicines, vaccines and diagnostic reagents as soon as possible to respond to emergencies.”,the WHO said in a statement.

WHO Deputy Director-General Mariangela Simao said Friday it was important to have more vaccines available because of supply problems for other shots, including from India, one of the main sources of vaccine for the global COVAX vaccine sharing programme.

India has constrained exports due to a crisis of infections at home that has beaten the country’s health system.

Moderna announced this week an enlargement plan for its manufacturing network to boost its capacity to up to three billion doses in 2022.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) had in January already recommended Moderna’s vaccine for all age groups 18 and above.

Pfizer and its German associate BionTech’s shot, an mRNA vaccine like Moderna’s, become the first vaccine to get a WHO emergency use list in the final hours of 2020.

Since then, the WHO has introduced vaccines from AstraZeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the list.

The UN health agency is still considering COVID-19 vaccines advanced by Chinese manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac following an extended review, with decisions due by the end of next week.