The World Health Organization (WHO) will meet between this week and next week to assess the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac for the WHO Emergency Use Listing Procedure, according to a WHO official and recent media reports.
"We do have an advisory group meeting today, and it will meet the next days to assess Sinopharm," said Mariangela Batista Galvao Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, at a briefing on Monday.
"We will be assessing Sinovac" on May 5, she said, adding "we expect that for Sinopharm we will have a decision before the end of this week, and Sinovac most likely by the end of next week."
If approved, the Chinese vaccines would be the first from a non-western country to gain approval from the global health agency, said a Reuters report on Tuesday.
WHO backing of the Chinese vaccines could have a "significant impact" on their role in global vaccine supply, the South China Morning Post quoted Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, as saying.
"Authorising the emergency use of the Chinese vaccine would legitimise the international marketing of the Chinese vaccine and facilitate vaccination drives in countries that have received the vaccine," Huang said, adding that the WHO's approval will also allow the WHO-led COVAX initiative to buy Chinese vaccines for distribution.