Oxford-AstraZeneca ‘Covishield’ vaccine likely to be approved in India

New Delhi: The 10-member Subject Expert Committee of India’s Central Drug Standard Control Organisation is likely on Friday to approve emergency use authorisation of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, top sources told IANS.

The decision will pave the way for the vaccine’s rollout in India, which also has the highest number of infections in the world, after the US.

The UK and Argentina have already approved the vaccine. More than five crore doses of the vaccine have already been stockpiled by its manufacturer, the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

The expert panel had convened a meeting on Friday afternoon to take a call on the emergency use authorisation sought by the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech for their coronavirus vaccine candidates.

Once the vaccines are cleared by the committee, the application will be sent to Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) V.G. Somani for approval.

The Serum Institute has partnered with Oxford-AstraZeneca for conducting clinical trials and manufacturing ‘Covishield’ while Bharat Biotech has collaborated with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to make ‘Covaxin’.

America’s Pfizer was the first one to apply for the accelerated approval on December 4, followed by Serum and Bharat Biotech on December 6 and 7, respectively. Pfizer has, however, sought more time to present the data.

As India awaits for a silver bullet against coronavirus with bated breath, the DCGI, on Thursday, hinted at the approval of vaccine and said that the country will have a “Happy New Year with something in hand”.

The meeting comes a day before dry-run of the vaccine is slated to commence in all the states and Union Territories to equip the administration in management of vaccine supply, storage and logistics, including cold chain management.

The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.

(IANS)

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