The World Health Organization has decided not to approve Quebec’s Medicago COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, citing the company’s ties to big tobacco.
The decision was anticipated, as the WHO suspended the prequalification process for the company’s new Covifenz vaccine last week. The Marlboro cigarette manufacturer, Philip Morris International, is a shareholder in the Quebec company.
In a statement to CBC News on Friday, the WHO said the company’s request for an emergency use list of its vaccine had been denied, keeping it out of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access program (COVAX ), a global vaccine sharing initiative.
He said Medicago had been made aware of the decision, which was made “due to the link with the tobacco industry and the WHO’s strict policy of not engaging with companies that promote tobacco.” tobacco,” the statement said.
Medicago CEO and Chairman Takashia Nagao said the cigarette company is a minority shareholder and the WHO decision was not based on “the demonstrated safety and efficacy profile of our COVID vaccine.” -19″.
Philip Morris Investments, a subsidiary of the tobacco giant, currently owns about a third stake in the company.
The WHO said it is currently exploring different policy options for potentially valuable health products that are linked to the tobacco industry and “will make a decision soon.”
This means Medicago could still be considered for emergency use, along with other products in the future, the WHO said.
Medicago, the only plant-based COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, would add an additional 20 million doses to the COVAX alliance.
The vaccine was approved by Health Canada in February for adults 18 to 64 years old.