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'Extremely essential, often takes longer': Top WHO official on approval of emergency use of Covaxin

Dr Ryan was replying to a query about if there would be a final response on Covaxin Emergency Use Listing by October 26 at a recent virtual Q&A.

Extremely essential often takes longer Top WHO official on approval of emergency use of Covaxin gcw
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New Delhi, First Published Oct 22, 2021, 3:58 PM IST
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While a decision on the emergency use listing of Covaxin, manufactured in India, is awaited, a top WHO official stated that thoroughly evaluating a vaccine for use and recommending it sometimes takes longer. Still, it must be ensured that the right advice is given to the world "even if it takes another week or two." World Health Organization "clearly wants all nations to recognise vaccines that have received an Emergency Use Listing through the WHO recommendation procedure (EUL). But it's equally critical that WHO, when it makes a recommendation like that, does it worldwide," Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, stated.

Dr Ryan was replying to a query about if there would be a final response on Covaxin Emergency Use Listing by October 26 at a recent virtual Q&A. In a previous tweet, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan stated that the technical advisory committee at WHO will meet on October 26 to discuss the Emergency Use Listing for Covaxin, which India's Bharat Biotech makes. In a tweet earlier this week, the World Health Organization stated that it is anticipating one more piece of information on Covaxin from Bharat Biotech.

Also Read | WHO expects additional information from Bharat Biotech before recommending Covaxin, says 'Cannot cut corners'

Dr Ryan stated, "we have to be certain," and it is critical that "we gather all of the necessary information not only on the vaccine itself but on the manufacturing processes and everything else, because we're recommending to the world that this vaccine is safe, effective, and produced using the highest quality standards." He explained how the WHO technical advisory group works, saying that vaccine manufacturers must first request and respond. Dr Ryan added that they want their vaccines to be put on the Emergency Use List and then provide documentation on the entire process, including efficacy studies and manufacturing processes.

He emphasised that the entire process, even if people cannot see it "day to day," is "very measured" because "we have to say to the world 'we've looked at this carefully, we've looked at every piece of data, we've looked at the whole production cycle, and we can say with our hands on our hearts, having looked at all that data, here is a safe, effective, and well-produced product".

Also Read | Awaiting regulatory approvals to launch Covaxin for children: Bharat Biotech

"That's extremely essential, and it often takes longer, which is annoying. It's more aggravating if you've got a vaccine that another country doesn't recognise and you can't travel," Dr Ryan added. He said that the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee has been "very, very explicit," and nations have been told that vaccination certificates should not be utilised as the only measure and means of restricting travel.

On April 19, Bharat Biotech submitted an EOI (Expression of Interest) for their vaccine. On July 6, the WHO stated that it begun sending out vaccination data. Rolling data enables the WHO to start its evaluation as soon as new information is received, speeding up the entire review process. Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and Covishield from AstraZeneca and Oxford University are the two most commonly used vaccinations in India.

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