Serum’s Covishield could be first vaccine to get India’s nod

The expert committee at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the Indian drug regulator, will decide on ‘Covishield’ after the UK gives a go ahead to the vaccine in its own country

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The Serum Institute of India is still waiting for emergency use authorisation for its Covishield vaccine, which may come after the UK gives its nod to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca next week.

The expert committee at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the Indian drug regulator, will meet after the UK gives a go ahead to the vaccine in its own country. The committee will thoroughly review the safety and immunogenicity data from the clinical evaluations conducted abroad and in India before granting any emergency authorisation for the vaccine here, official sources said.

Also read: IAVI, Merck join hands with SII to develop monoclonal antibodies for COVID response

Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxin’ may have to wait more for emergency authorisation since the phase 3 trials of the vaccine candidate are still underway, while Pfizer is yet to make a presentation.

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“Going by this, Oxford vaccine ‘Covishield’ is likely to be the first to be rolled out in India,” a source said.

Also read: India may have a ‘safe and effective’ COVID vaccine by January

Serum Institute of India (SII) last week also had submitted some additional data required by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the sources said.

Amid fears about the mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2 detected in the UK, government officials recently said that it will have no impact on the potential of emerging vaccines that are being developed in India and other countries.

Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Pfizer had applied to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) seeking emergency use authorisation for their COVID-19 vaccines early this month.

The subject expert committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on December 9 had sought additional safety and efficacy data for COVID-19 vaccines of SII and Bharat Biotech after deliberating upon their applications.

The application by the Indian arm of US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer was not taken up for deliberation as the company had sought more time for making a presentation before the committee.

The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved by several countries including the UK, the US, and Bahrain.

While considering SII’s application, the SEC had recommended that the firm should submit an updated safety data of phase 2 and 3 clinical trials in the country, immunogenicity data from the clinical trial in the UK and India, along with the outcome of the assessment of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for grant of EUA.

As for Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, “after detailed deliberation, the committee recommended that the firm should present the safety and efficacy data from the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial in the country for further consideration”, the SEC had said.

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