WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine could get emergency approval by mid-February

NETHERLANDS - 2020/11/29: In this photo illustration, a man holds a syringe with a fake Covid-19 vaccine with the AstraZeneca logo in the background. (Photo Illustration by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NETHERLANDS – 2020/11/29: In this photo illustration, a man holds a syringe with a fake Covid-19 vaccine with the AstraZeneca logo in the background. (Photo Illustration by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is in the final stages of review for a World Health Organization emergency-use listing and could receive approval by mid-February.

In a joint briefing on Wednesday with the WHO’s the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) expert panel on immunization, officials recommended the shot should be widely used, emphasizing that its benefits outweigh any risks.

“We hope this will be followed very soon by the emergency-use listing of this product,” the WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the briefing.

Asked why the WHO was pushing ahead with recommendations on using the vaccine even before much-anticipated data from a large U.S. clinical trial of the shot, Alejandro Cravioto, chair of SAGE on Immunization, said the U.S. data was “not expected until into March”. “We have thousands of people dying from the infection, in many countries of the world, daily,” he said.

“Anything we can do to use a product that might reduce that is totally justified, even if the information… is not (as) complete as we like.”