Dr Fong Welcomes WHO’s Approval Of Janssen Vaccine

WHO has backed AstraZeneca after a small number of European countries suspended the rollout of the jab as a precaution after fears of blood clots.
15 Mar 2021 12:20
Dr Fong Welcomes WHO’s Approval Of Janssen Vaccine

Permanent secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong has welcomed the approval by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the usage of the Janssen COVID vaccine.

Janssen was developed by the American international pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson.

Dr Fong said WHO’s approval was good news.

“Janssen is much easier to deploy as it is single dose and the cold storage is within vaccine cold storage conditions,” he said.

The clearance is for emergency use in all countries and for the international UN-partnered effort to roll-out vaccines equitably across the world, COVAX.

The decision comes on the back of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorisation, which was announced last Thursday.

“Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“But the hope offered by these tools will not materialise unless they are made available to all people in all countries. I urge governments and companies to live up to their commitments and to use all solutions at their disposal to ramp up production so that these tools become truly global public goods, available and affordable to all, and a shared solution to the global crisis.”

The vaccine from Janssen is the first to be listed by WHO as a single dose shot, which should facilitate vaccination logistics in all countries.


Europe and AstraZeneca

WHO has backed AstraZeneca after a small number of European countries suspended the rollout of the jab as a precaution after fears of blood clots.

“As of March 9, there have been over 268 million doses of vaccine delivered since the start of the pandemic, and based on data reported – that’s data reported to WHO by national governments – no causes of death have been found or been caused by COVID-19 vaccines to date,” said spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris.

Speaking via videoconference in Geneva, Dr Harris noted that the WHO’s independent expert global advisory board, SAGE, was currently assessing reports on the AstraZeneca vaccine and that those findings would be made public as soon as they were available.

AstraZeneca was approved by WHO after global clinical trials involving 23,000 people.

“AstraZeneca is an excellent vaccine,” Dr Harris told reporters.

Causal link not shown

Blood clotting episodes are common in people “so it’s not clear if this was something that was going to happen”, or whether the vaccine was responsible, the WHO spokesperson explained.

“A causal relationship ….has not been shown,” she said.

Earlier, UK-based AstraZeneca insisted its jab was safe, saying there is no evidence of higher blood clot risk.


Hundreds of vaccine candidates

According to the WHO COVID-19 vaccine tracker, there are 81 vaccines in clinical development and more than 180 in the pre-clinical development phase.

To date, WHO has approved two vaccines for emergency use against COVID-19: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – approved on 31 December 2020 – and two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, on February 15, 2021.

“The Chinese Sinovac jab is currently in the last stage of clinical evaluation and may be approved for use by the end of the month,” Dr Harris said

“Certainly, we are looking at the Chinese vaccine and there is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to consider, and we are looking at a number of others.”


Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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