It is impossible to know if it is the most effective against Covid, but the vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech will undoubtedly go down in history as the first. After Canada, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the European Union, the WHO has given its agreement for an “emergency” approval of the Comirnaty vaccine on Thursday 31 December.
Objective: to enable countries which do not have the means to quickly ensure the efficacy and safety of this vaccine to deploy it without delay. Above all, this authorization allows Unicef and the Pan American Health Organization to buy the vaccine and distribute it in less developed countries.
A vaccine with heavy logistics
A messenger RNA vaccine, Comirnaty requires significant logistics to respect a strict cold chain, with storage temperatures between – 60 ° C and – 90 ° C, which poses a problem for deploying them on a large scale in certain regions of the world. . “ WHO works with countries where it is needed to support distribution plans », Indicates the organization.
→ STORY. Covid-19: from production to injection, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine route
It will be necessary to wait for vaccines based on another technology (adenovirus-type vectors, or attenuated virus vaccines) for the logistics to be simplified. In this regard, Argentina and the United Kingdom have already authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine, under more conventional storage conditions. This vaccine is under review by the European Union. Other countries have favored the Russian product Sputnik V, which works on the same principle of a viral vector, while the Gulf countries have favored Chinese attenuated virus vaccines.
Enough doses for all countries?
Emergency authorizations granted by countries or by the WHO are based on the preliminary results of clinical trials which have involved several thousand people. It is then up to the States to carry out further investigations if they wish, and above all to reflect on their deployment strategies to best curb the coronavirus epidemic. WHO will provide recommendations on the priority populations to be vaccinated on January 5.
→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: The challenges of vaccine production and distribution
The organization is however concerned about the number of doses available. For Mariangela Simao, director in charge of access to medicines at the WHO, “ an even greater effort is needed to have enough vaccine doses available to meet the needs of priority populations all over the world ”.