The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday issued emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for the one-shot dose to be used as part of the United Nation's international vaccine distribution effort.
According to The Hill, The go-ahead signal from WHO, which comes a day after the European Union approved the shot, means that countries that receive shots through the UN's COVAX effort, which promotes equitable distribution of vaccines, could cite the new endorsement in the distribution of the shot.
"Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic," said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.
"But the hope offered by these tools will not materialize unless they are made available to all people in all countries. I urge governments and companies to live up to their commitments and to use all solutions at their disposal to ramp up production so that these tools become truly global public goods, available and affordable to all, and a shared solution to the global crisis," the WHO chief added.
The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is the first to be listed by WHO as a single dose regimen, which should facilitate vaccination logistics in all countries. "The ample data from large clinical trials shared by the company also shows that the vaccine is effective in older populations," according to the global health body.
"To expedite listing of the vaccine, WHO and a team of assessors from all regions adopted what is called an 'abbreviated assessment' based on outcomes of the EMA review, and evaluation of quality, safety and efficacy data focused on low- and the middle-income country needs. The WHO assessment also considered suitability requirements such as cold chain storage and risk management plans to be implemented in countries," the health body's statement read.
While the vaccine needs to be stored at -20 degrees, which may prove challenging in some environments, it can be kept for three months at 2-8°C and it has a long shelf life of two years.
According to The Hill, studies have shown that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66 percent effective in protecting any cases of moderate to severe illness and 85 percent effective against severe cases of COVID-19. It completely prevented hospitalizations and death four weeks after inoculation.
WHO has also listed the Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio and Serum Institute of India vaccines for emergency use.