- We have to review the Pfizer vaccine at the earliest: Official
- The country currently has 9.68 million COVID-19 infections
- India is pinning its hopes for mass supply of vaccine on Serum Institute
New Delhi: India is accelerating its review of coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca for emergency use, a senior government official said on Monday (December 7), as the world’s second-most affected country struggles to contain the outbreak. The Indian government is pinning its hopes for mass supply of the vaccine on Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer by volume, which on Monday lodged the first formal application for emergency use approval for AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer Inc had already applied for emergency use approval for its vaccine in India over the weekend, the official said, declining to be identified.
We are in the process of reviewing. It is an accelerated reviewing process, which is there for Serum too. It is the need of the hour. We have to review at the earliest, the government official said.
The world’s second-most populous country with over 1.3 billion people has 9.68 million infections, while more than 140,000 people have died of COVID-19. Lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the virus have plunged the economy into one of its worst downturns in decades.
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted that the move to apply for emergency use “will save countless lives,” but did not give any other details.
The company declined to reply to Reuters’ follow-up questions about the process.
AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna Inc are among the drugmakers seeking advanced approvals for their vaccines, which are increasingly being seen by governments as the only way to stop a pandemic that will soon complete a year since it was first reported in China.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine, called “Covishield” by Serum Institute, has less stringent storage requirements and is expected to be easier to distribute and faster to scale up in low-income countries.
But it is also facing queries from scientists over its trial data, which showed a 1.5 dose regimen delivered more than 90 per cent efficacy and a full two-dose regimen just 62 per cent, both administered over two stages.
Britain and some other nations have pressed on with plans to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the Philippines and Thailand secured millions of doses, giving the shot a vote of confidence after experts raised questions about trial data.
AstraZeneca said two weeks ago that it could launch an additional trial to evaluate the lower dose regimen, but Serum Institute has said it would continue to test only the two full doses as it would delay trials.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII said that the company will first focus on supplying the vaccine in India before distributing it to other countries, pricing it at 1,000 rupees per dose ($13.50) for private markets. Serum Institute has also said an emergency use approval could preface a full rollout by February or March.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.