Approval comes as cases spread around the world, putting pressure on governments to speed up vaccination programs.
The World Health Organization has included Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, the agency said on Friday, the fifth strike to receive status designed to speed up approval of its own shots.
“The goal is to make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics to deal with the emergency as quickly as possible,” a WHO statement said.
WHO Assistant Director-General Mariangela Simao said on Friday that it was important to have more vaccines available due to supply problems for other shots, including from India, a major source of vaccines for the global vaccine sharing program COVAX.
India has limited exports due to a crisis of home infections that has gripped the country̵
Moderna announced this week a plan to expand its production network to increase its capacity to three billion doses in 2022.
In January, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group on Immunization (SAGE) already recommended the Moderna vaccine for all age groups over 18 years.
The shot by Pfizer and German partner BionTech, an mRNA vaccine like Moderna’s, was the first vaccine to receive a list of WHO emergency use in the last hours of 2020.
Since then, the WHO has added vaccines from AstraZeneca-SK Bio, the Serum Institute of India and Johnson & Johnson to the list.
The UN Health Agency is still considering COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Chinese manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac, following an extensive review, with solutions due later next week.