WHO backs AstraZeneca jab in boost for poor countries



The World Health Organization on Monday approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, in a boost for poorer countries where millions of doses are set to be distributed.
While inoculation drives have been gaining pace, with nearly 172 million vaccine doses given worldwide, most of the jabs have so far gone to richer countries, reports AFP.

The AstraZeneca shot, which is easier to store and transport than some of its rivals, will account for almost all the doses set to be shipped under Covax, an international programme designed to ensure that poor countries do not miss out.

“Today we have even more reason to be hopeful of bringing the Covid-19 pandemic under control,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.

Governments are pinning their hopes on vaccines to end a pandemic that has killed more than 2.4 million people, but some rollouts are continuing to attract controversy.

Peru’s foreign minister on Sunday became the latest senior figure to resign in a scandal over top officials jumping the queue for vaccinations.

Britain has meanwhile won plaudits for the speed of its vaccine drive, with more than 15 million receiving a first dose.

However, it remains one of the world’s worst-hit countries with more than 117,000 deaths, and on Monday it began mandatory hotel quarantining for arrivals from high-risk countries.

Arrivals from the 33 “red list” nations must self-isolate in a hotel for 10 days — at a personal cost of o1,750 ($2,420, 2,000 euros).

“I’m not happy, but you have to do it,” said one woman who had flown in from Zambia.

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