India could approve coronavirus vaccine soon, key meeting today
After the meeting on Wednesday to judge the emergency use authorization applications of coronavirus vaccine developers remained without a conclusion, the subject expert committee (SEC) will meet again today. The panel will judge the pleas filed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. A proposal of US-based Pfizer could also be considered, the government said earlier, reports LiveMint. Here's more.
Once SEC gives the green signal to the vaccines, the applications will be sent to DCGI for the final nod. India, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, hopes to administer doses to at least 30 crore people in the coming six to eight months. The queue for vaccination will be led by healthcare workers and high-risk individuals.
The country has placed its best bets on the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca, whose millions of doses SII is producing. On December 9, the SEC of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) asked for more information from SII, which the company furnished on December 24. Bharat Biotech was also asked to give more data.
On Wednesday, the expert panel found some documents missing that had to be updated by SII, reports HT. "Further time was requested on behalf of Pfizer. The additional data and information presented by SII and Bharat Biotech Pvt. Ltd. were perused and analyzed by the SEC. The analysis of the additional data and information is going on," a statement revealed this week.
To note, the Oxford vaccine was approved by the United Kingdom on Wednesday, swelling its chances of getting the nod in India. Dr. Randeep Guleria of AIIMS had said, "This is very good news that AstraZeneca got approval for its vaccine by UK regulatory authorities. They have robust data and in India, the same vaccine is being developed by the Serum Institute of India."
Now, the Indian government is yet to sign an agreement with SII to purchase doses, but the company said it will give priority to the home market before exporting to other nations. SII, the largest vaccine maker in the world, has reportedly already produced 50 million doses of Covishield. CEO Adar Poonwalla asserted the vaccine will cost Rs. 700-800 for the private market.
The SEC meeting comes just a day before a dry run will be held in all states. In the first successful dry run last month, only four states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, and Punjab, participated. "The activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least three session sites; some states will also include districts...situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support," the Centre said.
While there are enough indications to show that India will approve a vaccine soon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged people to not lose sight of coronavirus-appropriate behavior. "Now the vaccine is on the horizon. It's a matter of time. But I still want to say: dawai bhi aur kadai bhi (get vaccinated, but take every precaution)," he underlined.