The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 jab, Covaxin, for emergency use after determining that the Indian vaccine meets the body’s standards for protecting against the virus.

On Wednesday, the WHO announced that the Technical Advisory Group, convened by the organization and made up of regulatory experts from around the world, had ruled that “the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs risks,” permitting it to be used worldwide.

Two doses of Covaxin were found to have an efficacy of 78% against any severity of Covid-19 after two weeks or longer, the WHO said.

The agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (known by its acronym SAGE) also reviewed the jab. It recommended that Covaxin be administered in a two-dose regimen at four-week intervals, and that it is suitable for all age groups over 18.

However, available data was found “insufficient to assess vaccine safety or efficacy in pregnancy,” the WHO said, remarking that studies in expectant mothers are planned.

The emergency-use listing comes as a win for millions of Indians inoculated with the jab looking to travel overseas. It also opens the possibility of the vaccine boosting inoculation rates in poor nations, as the WHO said the vaccine is “extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements.”

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin joins a list of WHO-backed jabs for emergency use, including the mRNA shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, adenovirus vector vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, as well as China’s inactivated jabs from Sinovac and Sinopharm.

India celebrated a mammoth milestone having administered a billion Covid vaccines last month, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing the landmark as “witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of [1.3 billion] Indians.”

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