WHO Approves Moderna Vaccine for Emergency Use

GENEVA-The World Health Organization has approved the emergency use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

RNA vaccines from US manufacturers will join the vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson upon receipt of the WHO emergency use list. According to WHO, similar approvals for China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are expected in the coming days and weeks.

The green light for Moderna’s vaccine, announced late Friday, took months due to the delay WHO faced in retrieving data from the manufacturer.

Many countries that do not have their own advanced medical regulation and evaluation office rely on the WHO list to decide whether to use the vaccine. UNICEF of the United Nations Children’s Fund also uses this list to deploy vaccines in emergencies such as pandemics.

This announcement is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the supply of Moderna vaccine to developing countries. The company has signed supply agreements with many developed countries that have already received millions of doses.

In a statement on Friday, CEO Stephane Bancel said Moderna “is actively participating in discussions with multilateral organizations such as COVAX to protect people around the world.”

He mentions a UN-backed program to ship the COVID-19 vaccine to many low- and middle-income countries.

Japan’s Health Minister Norihisa Tamura confirmed on Friday that the first dose of Moderna’s vaccine, which is due to be approved in May, has arrived in Japan.

If the Moderna vaccine is approved, it will be the second COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Japan.

Japan officially approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in February this year. This is to step up efforts to curb the third wave of infection for the Summer Olympics.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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