The World Health Organization on Friday granted emergency use approval to the coronavirus vaccine Covovax, which has been developed by United States-based biotechnology company Novavax.

The company has granted a licence to the Serum Institute of India to produce the vaccine, and the Indian company began producing it on June 25.

The World Health Organization on Friday said that the approval to Covovax will give a “much-needed boost to ongoing efforts to vaccinate more people in lower-income countries”. It noted that the vaccine is a part of the global vaccine-sharing system Covax.

This is the ninth Covid-19 vaccine that has received emergency approval from the World Health Organization.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said the vaccine shows “excellent safety and efficacy” and that the authorisation to the vaccine is “yet another milestone in our fight against Covid-19”.

Mariângela Simão, the global health body’s assistant director-general for Access to Medicines and Health Products, said that even with the emergence of new variants of Covid-19, vaccines remain one of the most effective tools to protect people against serious illness and death.

“This listing aims to increase access particularly in lower-income countries, 41 of which have still not been able to vaccinate 10% of their populations, while 98 countries have not reached 40%,” she said.

Covovax is a two-dose vaccine and can be stored at refrigerated temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius. It showed an overall efficacy of 90.4% in phase three trials.

On January 30, Poonawalla had announced that his company had applied to begin trials in India. He had then said that he was expecting to launch Covovax in June.

In July 2020, Novavax had signed a deal with the Serum Institute to produce 2 billion (200 crore) doses of coronavirus vaccines.

The Serum Institute also produces Oxford-AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine with the brand name Covishield. A majority of vaccine doses administered to people in India have been those of Covishield.