WHO welcomes India’s nod to 2 COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use

Oxford's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin were the two vaccines approved by India's drug regulator on Sunday


The World Health Organisation (WHO), welcoming India’s move to approve two COVID-19 vaccines for restricted emergency use in the country, said the nod will “help intensify and strengthen the fight against the pandemic in the region.”

The Oxford vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech were the two COVID-19 vaccines which received India’s drug regulator’s nod on Sunday for emergency use.

“The WHO welcomes India’s decision giving emergency use authorisation to COVID-19 vaccines. The decision taken today by India will help intensify and strengthen the fight against the pandemic in the region,” news agency ANI quoted Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, as saying.

“The use of vaccine in prioritised populations, along with continued implementations of other public health measures and community participation will be important in reducing the impact of COVID-19,” she further said.

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The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted the approval to the two vaccines on the basis of recommendations of a COVID-19 Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

“After adequate examination, CDSCO has decided to accept the recommendations of the Expert Committee and accordingly, vaccines of M/s Serum and M/s Bharat Biotech are being approved for restricted use in emergency situation,” DCGI’s Dr VG Somani told a press conference.

This paves the way for the roll out of at least two vaccines in India in the coming days.

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has tied up with AstraZeneca to manufacture Covishield, while Covaxin has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the approval a decisive turning point in India’s fight against coronavirus.

“DCGI granting approval to vaccines of @SerumInstIndia and @BharatBiotech accelerates the road to a healthier and COVID-free nation. Congratulations India. Congratulations to our hardworking scientists and innovators,” he tweeted.

“It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India! This shows the eagerness of our scientific community to fulfil the dream of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, at the root of which is care and compassion,” he said in another tweet. He also saluted the frontline workers who have been leading the country’s fight against the virus.

Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted, “COVISHIELD, India’s first COVID-19 vaccine is approved, safe, effective and ready to roll-out in the coming weeks.” In his statement, Somani also said Cadila Healthcare has been granted the permission to conduct the Phase III clinical trial of its vaccine candidate in India.

On Sunday, India recorded 18,177 new COVID-19 cases in a day and the total coronavirus cases mounted to 1,03,23,965 while the death toll climbed to 1,49,435 with the virus claiming 217 lives in a span of 24 hours in the country, according to latest data.