India’s drug Controller DCGI on Friday approved the Covishield coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use, following the data scrutiny by manufacturer in India Serum Institute (SII) a day before. The decision comes after the United Kingdom’s approval on Thursday, bringing hope as the New Year dawns.
India has recorded the world’s second-most Covid-19 infections after the United States. India will begin administering the vaccine most likely by Wednesday, reported Reuters quoting unnamed sources.
The confirmation comes following the meeting of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO). Now, India becomes the third country to approve Covishield after Britain and Argentina. The CDSCO is also considering the applications of Pfizer Inc with Germany’s BioNTech, and by India’s Bharat Biotech.
To be priced at Rs.1,000 or lower, Covishield vaccine can be stored and transported under normal refrigeration, instead of requiring rather than supercooled to -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit) that is needed for Pfizer’s vaccine.
India has reported more than 10 million COVID-19 cases so far. The vaccination drive will inoculate 300 million of 1.35 billion population in the first phase.
Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, has already stockpiled about 50 million doses. Next, the government has to sign a purchase agreement with SII, which is also planning to supply the vaccine to other neighbouring and emerging economies in South Asia and Africa.