The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, clearing the way for the vaccines to be shipped to African countries through the Covax scheme.
Covax is a global initiative in which countries pool their resources to support the development of vaccines with a view to ensure that all countries receive a fair supply of effective vaccines.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk,” said WHO assistant-director general Mariângela Simão.
The vaccine has been found to have 63.09% efficacy and is suitable for low and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements, WHO said.
A group of experts on immunisation assembled by WHO recommended the vaccine for all age groups above 18 years.
The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio in South Korea and the Serum Institute of India.
South Africa last week halted its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a study showed “disappointing” results against its new Covid variant.
But experts are hopeful that the vaccine will still be effective at preventing severe cases.
The coronavirus has infected more than 3.7 million people and killed over 98,000 on the continent.