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The World Health Organization (WHO) has granted emergency use approval for the Covid-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India under license from US biotech firm Novavax. The jab is the ninth to be approved by the body.

In a press release on Friday, the WHO said that the granting of emergency use listing (EUL) to the vaccine, named Covovax, was a great step forward in ongoing efforts to vaccinate more people in lower-income countries.

The shot is produced by the Serum Institute of India under license from Novavax, and the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative has already ordered some 350 million doses.

“This listing aims to increase access particularly in lower-income countries, 41 of which have still not been able to vaccinate 10% of their populations, while 98 countries have not reached 40%,” Dr Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s assistant director general for access to medicines and health products, said in a statement.

The Novavax shot, a protein vaccine which uses technology that has been employed for decades to protect people from hepatitis, shingles, and other viral infections, has demonstrated high levels of efficacy (89.7% protection) against Covid-19 in trials. It requires two doses and is stable at refrigerated temperatures of between two and eight degrees Celsius.

The version of the vaccine produced by Novavax itself is undergoing reviews in the UK and EU.

The shot is the ninth to be approved by the WHO. Those already greenlit by the UN health body include vaccines by Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna.

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