WHO plans COVID-19 vaccine approvals for global rollout

WHO plans COVID-19 vaccine approvals for global rollout

Project targets poor nations and looks for help from China and Western drugmakers

BRUSSELS (Reuters) — The World Health Organization plans to approve several COVID-19 vaccines from Western and Chinese manufacturers in coming weeks and months, a document published on Wednesday shows, as it aims for rapid rollouts in poorer countries.

COVAX, a global scheme co-led by the WHO, wants to deliver at least 2 billion COVID-19 doses across the world this year, with at least 1.3 billion going to poorer countries.

But it has so far struggled to secure enough shots due to a shortage of funds, while wealthy nations have booked large volumes of vaccines for themselves.

In the race to deploy shots, regulatory approvals are key to confirming the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, and to boosting output. But some poorer countries rely mostly on WHO authorisations as they have limited regulatory capacity.

The WHO is therefore “expediting” emergency approvals, according to a COVAX internal document seen by Reuters.