WHO issues interim recommendations for use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (8 January 2021)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued interim recommendations for the use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, under Emergency Use Listing.

The interim guidance has been developed based on advice from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) at its extraordinary meeting held on 5 January 2021.

Background Information:

Messenger RNAs, also known as mRNA, are one of the types of RNA that are found in the cell. This particular one, like most RNAs, are made in the nucleus and then exported to the cytoplasm where the translation machinery, the machinery that actually makes proteins, binds to these mRNA molecules and reads the code on the mRNA to make a specific protein. So in general, one gene, the DNA for one gene, can be transcribed into an mRNA molecule that will end up making one specific protein.

BNT162b2 is an mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Pfizeer and BioNTech.

It has been shown to have an efficacy of ~95% based on a median follow-up of two months (the main safety subset consisted of 37,706 persons, and the reactogenicity subset consisted of 8183 persons).

The data reviewed by WHO at this time supports the conclusion that the known and potential benefits of BNT162b2 outweigh the known and potential risks.

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