The Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization on Friday, making it the first Chinese vaccine to do so.
The two-dose vaccine, which is already being used in dozens of countries around the world, was approved by the United Nations’ health agency.
The vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the AstraZeneca jab made at separate sites in India and South Korea have already been given an emergency use designation by the WHO.
“This afternoon, WHO gave emergency use listing to Sinopharm Beijing’s Covid-19 vaccine, making it the sixth vaccine to receive WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
“The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation, or SAGE, has also reviewed the available data, and recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, with a two-dose schedule.”
The WHO’s emergency use listing allows countries all over the world to quickly approve and import a vaccine for distribution, especially those without their own international-standard regulator.
It also allows the vaccines to be included in the Covax global vaccine-sharing scheme, which aims to provide equitable access to doses around the world, especially in developing countries.
According to an AFP tally, the Sinopharm vaccine is already in use in 42 countries, ranking fourth behind AstraZeneca (166), Pfizer-BioNTech (94), and Moderna (46).
Besides China, it is being used in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, and Seychelles, among others.
A clutch of other vaccines are on the road towards WHO emergency use listing, including a second Sinopharm product being made in Wuhan — the city where coronavirus was first detected.
A decision is expected within days on Sinovac, a second Chinese-made vaccine already being used in 22 countries.
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is the next furthest ahead in the process.