WHO authorizes China’s CanSino COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

GENEVA: The World Health Organization said on Thursday it has granted an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s CanSino Biologics, the 11th time it has received the green light.

The UN health agency said the single-dose CanSino vaccine was found to be about 92 percent effective against severe COVID-19 and 64 percent effective at preventing people from developing symptoms of the disease. The WHO Vaccine Expert Group recommended the vaccine for everyone over 18 years of age.

The CanSino vaccine uses a harmless virus called adenovirus to deliver the coronavirus spike protein into the body, which then triggers an immune response. The technology is similar to vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which use different adenoviruses.

Last year, China’s top infectious disease official acknowledged that the country’s homegrown vaccines offered little protection against COVID-19 and might need to be mixed with booster doses of new messenger RNA vaccines.

Amid the emergence of COVID-19 variants such as delta, omicron and their sub-variants, messenger RNA vaccines appear to be more effective compared to more traditionally manufactured vaccines.

CanSino’s authorization by the WHO means that COVAX’s UN-backed effort to distribute vaccines to poor countries can now buy and deliver vaccines made by the Chinese company. Last year, COVAX signed an agreement to buy more than 500 million Chinese vaccines made by Sinopharm and Sinovac.

It’s not clear how many of those doses are being used. Many countries that rely on COVAX for their immunization programs have expressed a preference for mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer.

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