A plant-based Covid-19 vaccine developed by Canadian pharmaceutical agency Medicago “very possible gained’t be accepted” for emergency use approval by the World Well being Group as a result of Medicago is partially owned by cigarette producer Philip Morris Worldwide, a WHO official said Wednesday.
Medicago’s software for emergency use approval has been paused as a result of firm’s connection to Philip Morris, which could run afoul of the WHO’s “very strict” insurance policies on partnering with tobacco and arms corporations, Dr. Mariângela Simão, the WHO’s assistant director-general of entry to medicines and well being merchandise, mentioned.
The vaccine—often known as Covifenz—could be the primary Western-manufactured Covid-19 shot rejected by the WHO, Bloomberg reported.
Philip Morris holds a 21% stake in Medicago, whereas Japanese pharmaceutical agency Mitsubishi Tanabe owns a 79% stake, a Medicago spokesperson mentioned.
Medicago CEO Takashi Nagao mentioned in a press release Wednesday he had not obtained any official communication from the WHO, and emphasised that the WHO’s choice was not linked to the security and efficacy of the corporate’s vaccine.
If Covifenz is rejected by the WHO, the vaccine could be excluded from the COVID-19 Vaccines International Entry (COVAX) initiative, which helps present vaccines and different provides for preventing Covid-19 to growing international locations, possible curbing worldwide demand for Covifenz.
Earlier this month, the WHO announced it had rejected Medicago’s request to have Covifenz pre-qualified for approval.
In October 2020, Medicago agreed to produce as much as 76 million vaccine doses to the Canadian authorities whereas receiving $173 million in authorities funding. Medicago’s Covifenz is the primary plant-based Covid-19 vaccine, and it confirmed 71% effectiveness in opposition to the virus and 75.3% effectiveness in opposition to the delta variant in research carried out earlier than the omicron variant turned dominant. Well being Canada approved Covifenz to be used by folks ages 18 to 64 on February 24. On the time, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Business François-Philippe Champagne hailed the drug’s approval as a milestone in reversing a 40-year decline within the nation’s biomanufacturing business, although Covifenz has but to be permitted to be used wherever exterior Canada. The WHO’s capacity to do enterprise with entities linked to the tobacco business is proscribed by the 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Protocol, which makes an attempt to limit tobacco business pursuits from influencing healthcare coverage.
Canada is a signatory to the Framework Conference on Tobacco Protocol, and its partnership with Philip Morris subsidiary Medicago provoked criticism from some tobacco management teams. “Even when it’s not a violation of the letter, it’s undoubtedly a violation of the spirit of the conference,” Les Hagen, government director for anti-smoking group Motion on Smoking and Well being in Edmonton, Canada, told Bloomberg. “This isn’t Canada’s proudest second in public well being.”