India is likely to grant emergency use authorisation for the vaccine jointly developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford by next week, media reports suggest. The vaccine that was recently in controversy over efficacy data is being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
If granted emergency use permission, India could be the first country to do so for the Oxford vaccine. Notably, the vaccine is still being assessed by regulators of other countries including the UK.
The Oxford vaccine is crucial for low-income countries that lack the resources and infrastructure to afford the Pfizer vaccine that has to be stored and transported at ultra-low temperatures. The vaccine manufactured by SII can be stored and transported at normal fridge temperatures—a major boon for countries with hot climate.
The Indian drug regulator first reviewed the application for emergency use authorisation on December 9 and demanded additional information that has been already provided by SII.
Two other vaccines seeking permission
Two other vaccines have also applied for emergency use authorisation from the Indian drug regulator. It includes the vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and another vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. However, they are yet to provide the additional information sought by the regulator.
The Pfizer vaccine has been already granted permission by drug regulators of various countries including the UK, the US, Bahrain and the UAE among others. In fact, vaccinations have already begun in the US and the UK. While many people had raised concerns about the safety and efficacy of the virus that were developed and approved for ‘political reasons’, US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday publicly took the Pfizer shot to boost the confidence of people in its safety.
Vaccinations from January
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday had said that the government is planning to start vaccinations from January onwards.
Meanwhile, the health ministry on Wednesday informed that 23,950 fresh cases of COVID-19 have been reported in India in the past 24 hours. The addition of the fresh cases has taken the COVID-19 case tally past 1 crore.
Also, 333 COVID-19 related deaths were reported by the ministry during this period. The addition of the fresh fatalities has taken India’s death toll due to the deadly virus to 1,46,444.
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