The World Health Organization granted an emergency use license Wednesday to a coronavirus vaccine developed in India, offering reassurance for a shot the country’s regulators allowed long before advanced safety and efficacy testing was completed.
The U.N. health agency said in a statement that it had authorized Covaxin, made by India’s Bharat Biotech. The action makes Covaxin the eighth COVID-19 vaccine to receive WHO's green light.
Covaxin was developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research, the government’s apex research body. The vaccine is made using a killed coronavirus to prompt an immune response and is given in two doses.
WHO said the vaccine was found to be about 78% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 and was “extremely suitable” for poor countries due to its much easier storage requirements.
An expert group convened by WHO said there was insufficient data about the vaccine's safety and efficacy in pregnant women; studies are being planned to address those questions.
To date, the World Health Organization has granted emergency approval to the vaccines made by AstraZeneca and its partner, the Serum Institute of India, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and the Chinese pharmaceuticals Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.