The World Health Organisation has given the go-ahead for emergency use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. The mRNA vaccine from the US manufacturer joins vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson in receiving the WHO's emergency use listing. Similar approvals for China's Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are expected in the coming days and weeks, WHO said.

What

  1. The greenlight for Moderna's vaccine, announced late on 30 April 2021, took many months because of delays that WHO faced in getting data from the manufacturer.
  2. Many countries without their own advanced medical regulatory and assessment offices rely on the WHO listening to decide whether to use vaccines.
  3. UN children's agency UNICEF also uses the listing to deploy vaccines in an emergency like the pandemic.
  4. The company struck supply agreements with many rich countries, which will have already received millions of doses.
  5. Moderna was actively participating in discussions with multilateral organisations, such as COVAX, to help protect populations around the world.

Flashback

  1. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use the same technology, based on messenger RNA, or mRNA.
  2. Such vaccines make use of the messenger RNA molecules that tell the body’s cells what proteins to build.
  3. The mRNA, in this case, is coded to tell the cells to recreate the spike protein of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
  4. It is the spike protein — which appears as spikes on the surface of the coronavirus — that initiates the process of infection; it allows the virus to penetrate cells, after which it goes on to replicate.
  5. A coronavirus vaccine based on mRNA, once injected into the body, will instruct the body’s cells to create copies of the spike protein. In turn, this is expected to prompt the immune cells to create antibodies to fight it.
  6. These antibodies will remain in the blood and fight the real virus if and when it infects the human body.