AstraZeneca’s vaccine is a vital part of COVAX, the system set up by the World Health Organization and others to procure COVID-19 jabs and ensure their equitable distribution around the world.
It accounts for almost all the 337 million vaccine doses COVAX is preparing to begin shipping to 145 countries during the first half of the year, once it receives WHO authorization.
The WHO is set to decide this week on whether to authorize the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use. If granted, those doses could start to be distributed to the world’s poorest countries.
So far, the WHO has only given emergency use listing to the Pfizer jab.
Alejandro Cravioto, chair of the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, stressed, “We have thousands of people dying. 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 would like.”