New Delhi : Indian on Sunday approved Serum Institute of India's 'Covishield' vaccine and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' for emergency use, eleven months after covid 19 was first reported in the nation.
Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) V.G. Somani gave nod to the vaccine drive, bringing relief to the nation with second highest number of covid 19 infections in the world after USA.
This will pave the way for the roll-out and administration of vaccines to nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive in the next six to eight months.
The first to receive vaccines are India's one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.
The Subject Expert Committee, whose duty it's to vetting the vaccine proposals, had recommended the vaccines for emergency use approval on January 1 and 2, respectively. The final call was to be taken by the DCGI.
The expert panel recommended granting permission for restricted emergency use of 'Covaxin' in "public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, specially in the context of infection by mutant strains.
Pune-based Serum Institute of India 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) for 'Covaxin'.
Serum and Bharat Biotech Pfizer had applied for the accelerated approval on December 6 and 7, respectively.
The UK and Argentina have already approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. More than five crore doses of the vaccine have already been stockpiled by its manufacturer, Serum Institute of India.
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will play a major role in India's plan to vaccinate its population against Covid-19 due to several factors -- low-cost, ease of storage and transport.
Serum Institute of India this week has said it has a stockpiled 40-50 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. India is likely to receive a majority of these 50 million doses.
As for Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, it is India's first indigenous vaccine for coronavirus. The inactivated virus vaccine is being developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).
IANS report with edits