In a bid to boost India's fight against Covid-19, the Central Drug Authority has approved the Serum Institute of India's COVID-19 vaccine Covovax, Biological E's jab Corbevax and anti-Covid pill Molnupiravir for restricted use in emergency situation.
Corbevax is India's first homegrown "RBD protein sub-unit vaccine", Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted this morning. It is made by the Hyderabad-based firm Biological-E.
"It's a hat-trick! It's now third vaccine developed in India," Mr Mandaviya said. The other two vaccines developed in India are Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and the Serum Institute of India's (SII) Covishield.
The announcement by Union Health Minister Mandaviya on Tuesday came a day after the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) recommended granting emergency use authorisation (EUA) to the COVID-19 vaccines Covovax and Corbevax with certain conditions.
The nanoparticle vaccine, Covovax, will be manufactured by the Pune-based SII.
The anti-viral drug Molnupiravir will be manufactured in India by 13 companies for restricted use under emergency situation to treat adult patients with COVID-19 and who have high risk of progression of the disease, the Health Minister said.
With this approval, the number of Covid vaccines which have received emergency use authorisation in the country has increased to eight. Six COVID-19 vaccines — Serum Institute's Covishield, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D, Russia's Sputnik V and the US-made Moderna and Johnson and Johnson — had already received EUA from the Indian drug regulator earlier.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently allowed Merck's Molnupiravir for treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 cases in adults who are at risk for severe disease. Before that in November, Britain granted conditional authorisation to Merck's coronavirus antiviral, the first pill shown to successfully treat COVID-19.
In a clinical trial of high-risk people during the early course of illness, Merck's drug was shown to reduce hospitalisations and deaths by around 30 per cent.
India will start administering COVID-19 booster shots to healthcare, frontline workers and those above 60 with comorbidities from January 10. Those aged 15-18 would start receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations from January 3.
The emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has put the world in a renewed battle against COVID-19.