The World Health Organisation welcomed India’s decision to give emergency use authorisation to two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, saying it will “help intensify and strengthen the fight against the pandemic in the region.”
India’s drugs regulator has approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.
“The use of vaccine in prioritised populations, along with continued implementations of other public health measures and community participation will be important in reducing the impact of COVID-19,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
The approval by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) was given on the basis of recommendations submitted by a COVID-19 subject expert committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
This paves the way for the roll out of at least two vaccines in India in the coming days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the fast-track approvals were “a decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight” that “accelerates the road to a healthier and Covid-free nation”.
The approval came a day after India rehearsed for a massive coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday. A dry run was held across states and Union Territories on Saturday in preparation for a massive vaccination drive, with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealing to people not to be misguided by rumours and disinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccine.
India is the world’s second most-infected nation with more than 1.03 Crore cases and almost 1,50,000 deaths, although its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak of more than 90,000 cases daily.