WHO gives emergency approval for Covovax vaccine

On December 17, 2021, World Health Organisation (WHO) gave approval for emergency use of Covovax vaccine for Children.

Key Points

  • WHO listed the Covovax as ninth COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. This move is aimed at increasing the access to vaccination across lower-income countries.
  • The Serum Institute of India (SII) produces Covovax, under the licence from Novavax.

Background

Recently, CEO of SII, Adar Poonawalla, announced that SII has planned to launch a COVID-19 vaccine called Covovax for children in next six months. He noted that, this vaccine is under trial and it would offer protection to children aged three years and more.

WHO’s approval

WHO approved Covovax after it was assessed under its emergency use listing (EUL) procedure on the basis of review of data on quality, safety & efficacy, a programmatic suitability, risk management plan, and manufacturing site inspections which is carried by the Drugs Controller General of India.

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is sold under the brand name Nuvaxovid and Covovax.  This subunit COVID-19 vaccine has been developed by Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Vaccine is undergoing trials in India under the brand name Covovax. It is stable at 2 to 8 °C.

Covovax’s doses

The vaccine is administered in two doses, 21 days apart.

Subunit vaccine

Subunit vaccine comprises of purified parts of the pathogen which are antigenic, or necessary to evoke a protective immune response. It does not contain the whole pathogen, as present in live attenuated or inactivated vaccine. But contains only the antigenic parts like proteins, polysaccharides or peptides.

Stability of the vaccine

Since subunit vaccine doesn’t have live components of the pathogen, there is no risk of introducing the disease. It is safer and more stable as compared to vaccine containing whole pathogens.

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