WHO clears China’s CanSino COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

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The World Health Organization said Thursday that it has granted an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s CanSino Biologics, the 11th such shot to receive the green light.

The UN health agency said the single-dose CanSino vaccine was found to be about 92 percent effective against severe COVID-19 and 64 percent effective in preventing people from getting symptoms of the disease. WHO’s expert vaccine group recommended the vaccine for everyone age 18 and over.

The CanSino vaccine uses a harmless virus called an adenovirus to deliver the spike protein of the coronavirus into the body, which then prompts an immune response.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The technology is similar to vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which use different adenoviruses.

Last year, China’s top infectious diseases official acknowledged that the country’s homegrown vaccines offered low protection against COVID-19 and that mixing them with booster doses of the novel messenger RNA vaccines might be needed.

Amid the emergence of COVID-19 variants like delta, omicron and its subvariants, messenger RNA vaccines have appeared to prove more effective when compared to more traditionally made vaccines.

WHO’s authorization of CanSino means that the UN-backed COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to poor countries can now purchase and deliver vaccines made by the Chinese company.

Last year, COVAX signed a deal to buy more than half a billion Chinese vaccines made by Sinopharm and Sinovac.

It’s unclear how many of those doses are being used. Many countries relying on COVAX for their immunization programs have expressed a preference for mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer.

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