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UN health agency clears COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

To speed up access to COVID-19 vaccinations in the developing world, on the eve of the new year, the UN health agency approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine for emergency use. 

Regulatory experts convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) from around the world and the UN agency’s own teams reviewed the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and found on Thursday that it met WHO’s must-have criteria for safety and efficacy – with its benefits offsetting any potential risks. 

General Assembly approves $3.2 billion UN budget for 2021

United Nations Member States, on Thursday, approved $3.231 billion to fund the global Organization’s regular budget for 2021. 

The General Assembly body dealing with UN administrative and budgetary matters (Fifth Committee) had discussed and approved the budget this afternoon before the plenary voted on the financial plan, with 168 casting their ballots in favour, two against (Israel, United States) and no abstentions. 

New COVID-19 variants under the microscope as travel bans mount over UK mutation

The UN health agency chief said on Monday that scientists have been working to understand new COVID-19 variants that have been reported in South Africa and the United Kingdom. 

According to news reports, more than 40 countries have now banned arrivals from the UK, because of mounting concerns over a new, more transmissible mutation of the new coronavirus, although health officials there stress that there is no evidence it is more deadly, or that it would not respond in the same way to the vaccines cleared for emergency use.  

Two billion COVID vaccine doses secured, WHO says end of pandemic is in sight

The end of the pandemic is in sight but we must not let our guard down, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as he welcomed the news that the global vaccine partnership COVAX has lined up almost two billion doses of existing and candidate vaccines for use worldwide.

The huge vaccine reservoir means that COVAX, a 190-country international initiative that seeks to ensure all countries have equal access to coronavirus vaccines, can plan to start delivering the shots in the first quarter of 2021.