The approval means its vaccine can be distributed by the international COVAX program, which is trying to make sure vaccines get to poorer nations. It is the third vaccine to get WHO approval, after those from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca.
“Every new, safe and effective tool against Covid-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,” said the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“But the hope offered by these tools will not materialize unless they are made available to all people in all countries. I urge governments and companies to live up to their commitments and to use all solutions at their disposal to ramp up production so that these tools become truly global public goods, available and affordable to all, and a shared solution to the global crisis.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose, unlike other vaccines that require two jabs spread over multiple weeks. It also does not require being refrigerated as cold as some others are, which might make it easier to distribute in developing countries.
COVAX has been guaranteed 500 million doses.
The WHO also weighed in on the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday, after several European countries suspended its use due to worries that the jab could be linked to a higher chance of inter-vascular blood clots. The WHO says it has seen no such link, but it is continuing to monitor research into the matter.