The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said countries were free to import and administer the Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 although it is yet to be certified by the global health agency.
The Sinopharm vaccine is currently undergoing the evaluation process.
While some countries worldwide have expressed scepticism over the drug, some countries including Zimbabwe have since ordered it and started to administer it.
Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga who is also the minister of Health and Child Care was the first to be inoculated with the Sinopharm drug while President Emmerson Mnangagwa would take the vaccine two weeks later.
WHO country representative to Zimbabwe, Dr Alex Gasasira said this week there was nothing amiss with the process in which the Chinese government handled its vaccine distribution.
Speaking during a question and answer session at a training programme on Covid-19 reporting in Gweru organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter, Gasasira said:
Vaccines are taken to the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts after they have been registered in their countries of origin. So, you are taking these documents to WHO for you to have a global approval or registration of your vaccine.
But you are perfectly free to use it in your own country because you developed it and your own regulatory authority has approved it. And if there is person A or B who wishes to buy from you, they can buy and use it.
Gasasira added that while it was good to have the approval of the United Nations (UN) health agency, lack of it did not hamper the use of a vaccine or medicine. He added:
There are many examples of medicines that are registered by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA that are not registered by WHO. They are being used because the Food and Drug Administration is registered. There are many of these examples.
WHO insists that one brings dossiers after a national regulatory authority has registered you. When your national regulatory authority is happy with the work that you have done in developing that vaccine or developing that medicine or in developing that medical device, then you bring your papers to us. We then look at the documents.
The use of COVID-19 vaccines, globally, is limited by concerns over the efficacy of the drugs which “were not given enough time for assessment.”
WHO insists no side effects have been recorded on all approved vaccines to date.
More: The Independent