Coronavirus: As second wave continues, India rushes to import vaccines
India on Thursday reported 2.11 lakh new COVID-19 cases along with over 3,800 deaths. As the second wave of COVID-19 is finally seeing a downward trend, India is rushing to import more vaccines. Notably, India's second wave coincided with reduced vaccinations and a shortfall of doses. India has now further relaxed norms for foreign vaccines to ease imports of "well-established" COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Thursday morning, India reported a total of 2,73,69,093 COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 3,15,235. So far, 2,46,33,951 patients have recovered, while 24,19,907 cases involve active infections. In the past 24 hours alone, India recorded 2,11,298 new infections, 2,83,135 more discharges, and 3,847 fresh fatalities. 20,26,95,874 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
Maharashtra reported 24,752 new COVID-19 cases along with 23,065 more recoveries. Karnataka, the second worst-hit state after Maharashtra, reported 26,811 new cases and 40,741 discharges. Meanwhile, the third worst-hit Kerala added 28,798 new cases and 35,525 recoveries. Tamil Nadu, the fourth worst-hit state, reported 33,764 new cases and 29,717 recoveries. Uttar Pradesh reported 3,371 new cases and 10,540 recoveries.
India on Thursday decided to scrap local trials for "well-established" foreign-made vaccines against COVID-19. Last month, the government had fast-tracked emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines, but it had maintained that post-approval parallel bridging clinical trials would be held in place of local clinical trials. This move was applicable to vaccines approved by the US, the UK, Europe, Japan, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul said on Thursday, "The provision has now been further amended to waive the trial requirement altogether for the well-established vaccines manufactured in other countries." The vaccines approved by the aforementioned nations and the WHO "will not need to undergo prior bridging trials." He said the government was in talks with Pfizer for the "earliest possible" import.
Dr. Paul further said that talks are on with Johnson & Johnson and Moderna. He added, "We reiterate our request to all international vaccine makers to come and make in India — for India and for the world."
India—the world's largest vaccine producer—is facing a vaccine shortage. Currently, it is using Covishield and COVAXIN, and Russia's Sputnik V has started being rolled out. The government has announced that over two billion vaccine doses will be ready between August-December 2021, however, experts say the goal may not be achieved. India is now rushing to import more vaccines, while it has also halted exports.