India on Sunday granted emergency approval to its first vaccines — Oxford-AstraZeneca and homegrown Covaxin, as it gears up to undertake an unprecedented immunization program for the country of more than 1.3 billion. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted the approval on the basis of recommendations of a Covid-19 Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
Welcoming the final approval for Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for emergency use, Union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said it was a watershed moment in India’s battle against Covid-19 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The announcement of India’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine came days after the regulators in Britain gave their nod to the vaccine and marks a big step forward for the world’s second worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic. India aims to administer the vaccine to 300 million people in the first phase and the rollout could begin in the coming days.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield in India, is being produced locally by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. It has stockpiled 40-50 million doses and plans to produce 300 million doses by July. Its billionaire owner, Adar Poonawalla has pledged 50 percent of its production for India. On Sunday, Poonawalla said on Twitter that his company’s risks “paid off” and the vaccine is “ready to roll out.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today also said that it would make every Indian proud that the two Covid-19 vaccines that have been given approval by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) are ‘made in India’.
“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,” said PM Modi.
Meanwhile, India on Sunday recorded 18,177 fresh cases of coronavirus, taking the total number of positive cases in the country to 1,03,23,965, according to Union Health Ministry. With this, the total number of active cases in the country now stands at 2,47,220.