The Sinopharm Group’s COVID Vaccine is the sixth vaccine to receive safety, efficacy and quality verification from the World Health Organization (WHO). It is the first vaccine from a non-Western country to receive WHO certification.
On May 7, in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement announcing that the Sinopharm’s COVID vaccine, developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products of China Pharmaceutical Group, has officially passed the WHO emergency use certification and listed on the "emergency use list".
The WHO’s Advisory Group of Immunization Strategies has completed an assessment of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine from different aspects, including its quality, safety, efficacy, risk management plan, procedural suitability, and the vaccine's manufacturing facility site.
In the statement, WHO said the Sinopharm vaccine is an inactivated vaccine called SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The vaccine can be easily stored and is suitable for impoverished regions that lack proper medical facilities. At the same time, the Sinopharm vaccine is the first vaccine with a vaccine vial monitor, which is a small label on the vial that changes color as the vaccine is heated, making it easy for health workers to determine if the vaccine is safe to use.
The Sinopharm vaccine is safe and effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization, reaching up to 79% of coverage. The WHO also recommends that adults above 18 years old should receive the vaccine in two doses from a time interval between three to four weeks apart. The organization did not set an upper age limit for vaccination. "The vaccine is likely to be protective in older adults," indicated the WHO.
However, the WHO also noted that due to the paucity of data on the participation of older people and people with co-morbidities in clinical trials, the quality of the Sinopharm vaccine is still under debate. The organization recommended that countries using this vaccine for the older generation should be monitored for its safety and efficacy.
According to WHO’s Director- General, Dr. Tedros, this Chinese vaccine will expand the range of vaccines available for purchase under the WHO-led New Coronavirus Vaccine Implementation Programme, while giving countries the confidence to accelerate their vaccine approval programs and speed up vaccine imports and vaccinations.
The New Coronavirus Vaccine Implementation Programme (NCPIP) provides vaccines primarily to developing countries. The program intends to distribute 2 billion doses of the vaccine worldwide by 2021, but only about 50 million doses have been completed. There is an urgent need for the Chinese vaccine due to the current severe global shortage of vaccine supply. Sinopharm's vaccine with the WHO emergency use certification will help shrink the current vaccine supply gap and enable mass vaccination in many less developed countries and regions.