The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG).
“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate Covid-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk,” said Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products, in a statement.
“We urge the manufacturer to participate in the Covax Facility and contribute to the goal of more equitable vaccine distribution,” she added.
This comes amid growing criticism of the Sinopharm vaccine.
The WHO’s Emergency Unit Listing (EUL) allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer Covid-19 vaccines. It assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as risk management plans and programmatic suitability, such as cold chain requirements.
The global health body recommended the Chinese vaccine for adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks. Vaccine efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalised disease was estimated to be 79 per cent, all age groups combined.
Few older adults over 60 years of age were enrolled in clinical trials, so efficacy could not be estimated in this age group, the WHO said. However, it did not recommend an upper age limit for the vaccine, saying that preliminary data and supportive immunogenicity data suggest the vaccine is likely to have a protective effect in older persons.
Vaccine experts around the globe have vehemently advised against Sinopharm, with the Shanghai-based doctor Tao Lina calling it the “most unsafe vaccine in the world”.
In February this year, the Egyptian Health and Population Ministry issued a list of potential side-effects from the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine-pain, redness, stiffness and itching at the area of the vaccination, increase in body temperature and more, reported Newshub.ik
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi had tested positive for Covid-19 in March after taking the Sinopharm vaccine.
To make matters worse, one of the volunteers in Peru died after being injected with the Sinopharm vaccine, while one of the volunteers developed severe neurological side-effects associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome that causes nerve damage and often paralysis, during a clinical trial.