A ground staff walks behind a container placed at Cargo Terminal 2 at Indira Gandhi International Airport, which officials say will be used as a Covid-19 vaccine handling and distribution center in New Delhi, India on December 22, 2020.
Anushree Fadnavis | Reuters
India’s drug regulator on Sunday gave final approval for emergency-use of two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and another by local company Bharat Biotech.
The world’s second most populous country is now expected to launch a massive vaccination program within a week, led by AstraZeneca / Ox Oxford and India Biotech’s covacin will be administered under strict conditions, for which no efficacy data has been released.
The overall effectiveness of the Drug Strazeneca / Ox Xford vaccine was 70.42%, while India Biotech’s covacin was “safe and provides a strong immunity”, said VG Somani, India’s Drug Controller General.
The British-developed AstraZeneca / Ox Oxford shot is being manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and will be branded as Covishield, while Bharat Biotech has partnered with the government-run Indian Medical Research Council.
“Messrs. Serum and Messrs. Bharat Biotech vaccines are being approved for restricted use in emergency situations,” Somani read out in a written statement at the press conference. Somani did not take questions.
Both vaccines will be given in two doses and stored at 2-8 સે C (36 to 48 ° F), he said. Sources told Reuters on Saturday that the dose would have to be given in addition to four weeks.
Somani explained that the India Biotech vaccine was recognized as a “precautionary measure” in the public interest, “to keep more options for vaccination in clinical trial mode, especially in cases of infection by mutant strains.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the approvals.
“It will make every Indian proud that two vaccines approved for emergency use have been made in India!” He called it a sign of a “self-reliant” country, he said on Twitter.
SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has already stockpiled more than 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, even without a formal supply deal with the government.
“SerminInst India has finally paid for all the risks involved in vaccine collection,” CEO Adar Poonawala said on Twitter. “India’s first Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, is valid, safe, effective and ready to roll-out next week.”