World Health Organization clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization says it has cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. This means poorer countries may soon get access to the shot already available in Europe and North America. Every country that has a drug regulatory body will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, but countries with weak systems usually rely on WHO to vet the shots.

The global body said that the decision to issue its first emergency use validation for a COVID-19 vaccine opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine. The UN health agency said its review found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, the European Union and a dozen other countries, met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by the World Health Organization.