India gives final urgent-use approval to Oxford and local coronavirus vaccines

Our Foreign Staff
·2 min read
A man applies finishing touches to graffiti representing a vaccine, amidst the spread of coronavirus disease in Kolkata, India - Reuters
A man applies finishing touches to graffiti representing a vaccine, amidst the spread of coronavirus disease in Kolkata, India - Reuters

India has authorized two Covid-19 vaccines, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world's second most populous country.

India's drugs regulator on Sunday gave an emergency authorisation for the vaccines developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

The overall efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was 70.42 per cent, while Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN was "safe and provides a robust immune response", Drugs Controller General of India V.G. Somani said.

The British-developed AstraZeneca/Oxford shot is being made locally by the Serum Institute of India, while Bharat Biotech has teamed up with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

"Vaccines of M/s Serum and M/s Bharat Biotech are being approved for restricted use in emergency situations," Somani read out from a written statement at a press conference. Somani did not take questions.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the approvals.

"It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India!" he said on Twitter, calling it a sign of a "self-reliant" country.

The country's initial immunisation plan aims to vaccinate 300 million people - health care workers, front-line staff including police and those considered vulnerable due to their age or other diseases - by August 2021.

India, with nearly 1.4 billion people, is the second-worst affected by the coronavirus after the US, with over 10.3 million confirmed cases and 149,435 deaths, though its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak.