The World Health Organization (WHO) approved two versions of a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, to be rolled out globally — including to hard-to-reach populations in Africa — through the vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX on Monday.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a platform launched by seven global partners, including the WHO, that aims to ensure equitable access to tests, treatments, and vaccines around the world.
These vaccines are two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which are produced at various manufacturing locations, as well as in the Republic of Korea and India, the WHO reported.
It has been found to have 63.09% efficacy and is a suitable option for distribution in countries in Africa due to its easy storage requirements, the WHO noted.
This is significant news as the continent struggles to begin vaccinating its population.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the COVAX Facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products Dr. Mariângela Simão said in a news release.
“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere and facilitate global access,” she added.
Although South Africa recently reported discouraging outcomes from the AstraZeneca vaccine, as it was discovered that it only offered minimal to moderate protection against COVID-19, experts are hoping that the vaccine will still offer enough protection to prevent severe cases of COVID-19, the BBC reported.