India has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, paving the way for a huge immunisation campaign in the world’s second most populous country.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters the vaccine had been given the green light yesterday, confirming what sources close to the matter had told Reuters.
It is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use by India, which has the highest number of infections after the United States, and comes on the day the country is running a nationwide mock drill for vaccine delivery.
Javadekar said at least three more vaccines were waiting to be approved – local company Bharat Biotch’s COVAXIN, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Russia’s Sputnik-V.
“India is perhaps the only country where at least four vaccines are getting ready,” he said.
India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is expected to announce the dosage and other details about the shot later. SII had applied for a two full-dose regime about 28 days apart.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which was granted its first approval by Britain on Tuesday, is cheaper and easier to use than some rival shots – major advantages in tackling a pandemic that has claimed more than 1.8 million lives worldwide.
However, it has been plagued with uncertainty about its most effective dosage ever since data published in November showed a half-dose followed by a full dose had a 90% success rate while two full shots were 62% effective.