India OKs AstraZeneca and locally-made COVID-19 vaccines

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New Delhi, Jan. 3 (BNA): India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation programme to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

India’s drugs regulator gave an emergency authorisation for the vaccines developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

Drugs Controller General Dr. Venugopal G Somani said that both vaccines will be administered in two dosages.

The country’s initial immunization 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.

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing company, has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses for developing nations, including India. On Friday, Britain became the first to approve the shot.

The other vaccine known as COVAXIN is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with government agencies and is based on an inactivated form of the coronavirus. The company has completed only two of three trial phases. The third, which tests for efficacy, began in mid-November.

Early clinical studies showed that the vaccine doesn’t have any serious side effects and produces antibodies for COVID-19.
India, with nearly 1.4 billion people, is the second-worst affected by the coronavirus after the U.S., 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.
An application for a vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. is still being reviewed.