The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday approved emergency use listing for Covovax produced by Serum Institute of India under licence from US-based pharmaceutical company Novavax. Covovax, the ninth anti-COVID vaccine to be granted an emergency use authorization from the global health agency, is still awaiting emergency use authorisation from India’s drug regulator DCGI. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), hailed the decision as “yet another milestone” in the fight against COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Poonawalla had said that SII planned to launch Covovax in the next six months, saying the under trial vaccine would offer protection to children down to three years as it had shown excellent data during the trials. Covovax is a protein vaccine, made with an older technology that’s been used for years to produce other kinds of vaccines.
According to WHO, Covovax was assessed under its emergency use listing procedure based on the review of data on quality, safety and efficacy, a risk management plan, programmatic suitability, and manufacturing site inspections carried out by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
“The Technical Advisory Group for Emergency Use Listing (TAG-EUL), convened by WHO and made up of experts from around the world, has determined that the vaccine meets WHO standards for protection against COVID-19, that the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs any risks, and that the vaccine can be used globally,” the world health body said in a tweet on Friday.
Reacting to the development, Poonawalla tweeted, “This is yet another milestone in our fight against COVID-19, Covovax is now WHO approved for emergency use, showing excellent safety and efficacy. Thank you all for a great collaboration…” He tagged Novavax, WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, its CEO Seth Berkley and the Gates Foundation to his tweet.
Poonawalla had asserted that there was enough data to show that Covovax would work and protect children against COVID-19.
“This listing aims to increase access particularly in lower-income countries, 41 of which have still not been able to vaccinate 10% of their populations, while 98 countries have not reached 40%,” said Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant-Director General for access to medicines and health products.
(With AP and PTI inputs)