WHO clears emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Geneva, January 1

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it has cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for emergency use. With this, poor countries are likely to get access soon of the shot, already available in Europe and North America.

Every country that has a drug regulatory agency can have its own approval for any Covid vaccine, but countries with weak systems usually rely on the WHO to vet the shots.

The global body said late Thursday the decision to issue its first emergency use validation for a Covid vaccine opened the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.

The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures, a big hurdle for developing countries. “This requirement makes the vaccine more challenging to deploy in settings where ultra-cold chain equipment may not be available or reliably accessible,” WHO said.

The UN health agency said its review found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, the European Union and a dozen other countries, “met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO.”

Norway has lifted ban on flights from Britain introduced due to new virus variant. Norway had on December 21 halted travel from the UK.

Meanwhile, China has approved its first self-developed Covid-19 vaccine. Developed by the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co. Ltd under the China National Biotec Group (CNBG), affiliated with Sinopharm, the vaccine’s phase-3 trials show 79.34% efficacy. — Agencies

Caught holidaying, Canadian minister resigns

Toronto: Rod Phillips, finance minister of Canada’s Ontario, has resigned after going on a Caribbean vacation amid the pandemic. He seemingly tried to hide it by sending social media posts showing him in a sweater before a fireplace. Travelling over the holidays was a wrong decision, he said. Agencies

Norway lifts UK flight ban

Oslo: Norway has lifted ban on flights from the UK. The ban was introduced due to the new virus variant on December 21. Reuters

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