American pharmaceuticals major Moderna’s COVID messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine is expected to reach India this week, reported news agency ANI. Just the completion of certain official formalities is awaited, it said. Once the vaccines are shipped, they will be distributed among government hospitals nationwide.
However, government officials are still holding discussions over indemnity waivers, ANI said.
Late last month, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted permission to pharmaceutical company Cipla to import Moderna’s mRNA vaccine for restricted emergency use in India. Under the plan, the doses will be given to the Centre, which will make them available via select hospitals that have the facilities to store the vaccines.
The Moderna vaccine is the fourth to be available in India, the other three being homegrown Covaxin, locally produced AstraZeneca formulation Covishield, and Russia-made Sputnik V.
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WHO studies have shown that the Moderna vaccine has an efficacy of about 94.1% against COVID infection, starting 14 days after the first dose. According to a Bloomberg report, it is also effective against the dreaded Delta variant of coronavirus that is spreading in the US and other parts of the world.
The Moderna product presents a two-dose regimen, where the shots have to be given at an interval of 28 days. The same process will be followed in India, officials have said.
The vaccine has received emergency authorisation from health agencies in over 50 nations worldwide. The WHO has also given it an Emergency Use Listing (EUL).
The vaccine made by US-based Pfizer is also expected to be available in India shortly. According to a Reuters report, COVAX, led by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO, is set to ship Pfizer vaccines to India in the coming weeks.
India has also been holding talks with Johnson & Johnson for its COVID vaccine. The American pharma firm has signed a manufacturing agreement with India’s Biological E. Ltd, but local production is yet to start.
According to the CoWIN website, India has administered 36.3 crore COVID vaccines till date. Of these, 29.4 crore are first doses and 6.84 crore are second doses.