WHO nod for COVAXIN expected by September-end: Report
NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul has said that India's indigenous COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN's trial data looked promising, and the vaccine could soon get emergency-use approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) soon. Reportedly, the vaccine's manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, also said that it has answered all queries and expects the approval to come by September end. Here are more details.
As India has administered over 75 crore doses, Dr. Paul told India Today, at this pace, the nation will achieve complete vaccination of the entire adult population by 2021-end. Paul—who heads the Centre's COVID-19 task force—said that vaccine hesitancy is no longer an issue in the country. Stating that there is a "vaccine eagerness," he said making vaccines reach everyone is the new task.
Further, Dr. Paul said that the government has no immediate plan on booster doses, and it is mainly focusing on "vaccinating everyone with two doses." However, he said COVAXIN is undertaking a study to see the need for booster jabs.
As several studies and models predict a third wave of COVID-19, Dr. Paul said there was no mutation of the Delta variant to contribute to a third wave. "AY.4 [a sublineage of the Delta variants] is a mutation but we do not believe it is more deadly than Delta." However, citing past experience, he warned that cases may surge again post the festival season.
Backing the government's decision to reopen schools, Dr. Paul said the government is prioritizing "high vaccination rates" among teachers. "Children need to be around adults who are vaccinated and that is the best antidote." Referring to the data received from Kerala and other states, he maintained that mortality is very low among children who are infected with the virus.
On whether India will receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, Dr. Paul said the talks are ongoing, but indemnity and contractual obligations are slowing down the process. He refused to elaborate further on the matter.