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WHO endorses AstraZeneca for adults, underlining benefits

The World Health Organization has endorsed AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, underlining benefits of continuing to use the vaccine even in variant-hit areas.

For some days, concerns have been growing on the efficacy against new variants.

A WHO panel recommended the vaccine for adults over 18 years old, according to a statement Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. It’s set to become the second shot the WHO approves after clearing the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE in December.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca chief executive officer, said the shot should still protect against severe disease.

WHO’s pronouncement could encourage inoculations in developing countries, many of which are waiting to administer their first shots as wealthier countries have already inoculated millions of residents.

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AstraZeneca has pledged significant supplies to COVAX, a facility that aims to distribute vaccines equitably around the world. Its shot is easier to deploy than other vaccines like Pfizer’s that need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures and costs less.

As mutated virus strains spread across the globe, concern has grown that they’ll impact vaccine efficacy.

South Africa, where one of the variants was first identified late last year, said it would pause a rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after a trial showed it had limited efficacy against mild infections with the strain.

Some European countries have recommended against giving the vaccine to the elderly, citing insufficient trial data.

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