The World Health Organization (WHO) has granted emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, clearing the way for countries around the world to rapidly authorise its importation and distribution.
WHO in a statement on Thursday said the decision made the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to gain WHO emergency validation since the novel coronavirus outbreak started a year ago.
WHO also said its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) opens the way for regulators in different countries to approve the import and distribution of the vaccine.
The statement said it also enables Uniced, which plays a key logistical role in distributing anti-Covid vaccines, and the Pan-American Health Organization to procure the vaccine for countries that need it.
On December 8, Britain initiated its US-German vaccine inoculation campaign, with the United States, Canada and EU countries following suit.
"This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to Covid-19 vaccines," said Mariangela Simao, a top WHO official tasked with ensuring access to medicines.
"But I want to emphasise the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere," she said in a statement.
WHO convened its own experts and those from around the world to review the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine's "safety, efficacy and quality," weighing the benefits against the risks.
"The review found that the vaccine met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO, and that the benefits of using the vaccine to address Covid-19 offset potential risks," it said.