The World Health Organisation on Wednesday said it could grant approval to the coronavirus vaccine developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, Reuters reported. The jab is in the final stages of review, said officials in a joint briefing with the WHO’s SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts) panel on immunisation.

Also read: WHO reassure safety of AstraZeneca jab for people over 65

"We hope this will be followed very soon by the emergency-use listing of this product," said WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, Reuters reported.

When asked why the international health body was steering ahead with the approval even as the much-anticipated data from a large US clinical trial of the vaccine was awaited, an expert said the data was “not expected until into March”.

"We have thousands of people dying from the infection, in many countries of the world, daily," said Alejandro Cravioto, chair of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunisation.

"Anything we can do to use a product that might reduce that is totally justified, even if the information... is not (as) complete as we like," he added.

Also read: India orders 10 million more shots of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: Report

Several countries have initiated mass immunisation drives against coronavirus, the contagion that has globally infected more than 107.3 million people and killed over 2.3 million of them.