COVAX, run jointly by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO, has delivered 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 132 countries since February, but has faced major supply issues since India suspended vaccine exports.
The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2 or the 'Indian strain', feared to be contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India, has been designated as the Variants of Interest by the WHO, the UN health agency said in its weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday.
In more detailed advice published on Wednesday, the WHO said that, where the epidemic was spreading, people - including children and students aged 12 or over - should always wear masks in shops, workplaces and schools that lack adequate ventilation, and when receiving visitors at home in poorly ventilated rooms.
AstraZeneca's vaccine was 70 per cent effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90 per cent effective, giving the world's fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.
Traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda can play an important role in integrated people-centric health services and healthcare, but they have not received enough attention, the WHO chief said.