WHO expert panel to discuss COVAXIN approval in meet today
COVAXIN, India's indigenous vaccine against the coronavirus, will likely receive the much-awaited approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) this month. An expert panel of the global health body is expected to meet on Tuesday to take a call on the vaccine's emergency authorization, according to documents detailing the group's agenda for the meeting. Here are more details on this.
The Strategic Advisory Group of Expert on Immunization (SAGE) will hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss COVAXIN's long-pending approval. The committee had started its four-day meet on policy guidance on Monday. All vaccine candidates submitted to WHO must be approved by SAGE and a technical advisory group, which will also meet this month, for Emergency Use Listing (EUL).
COVAXIN, developed by Bharat Biotech, was India's first approved indigenous coronavirus vaccine and has been found nearly 78% effective. Its approval by WHO has been pending for several months, marred by delays over insufficient trial data. In June, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had also rejected its application for an emergency use approval.
As and when COVAXIN receives WHO's nod, it will gain a wider acceptance around the world. International recognition will allow Bharat Biotech to start widely exporting its vaccine and become part of the "vaccine passport" - under which fully vaccinated people are allowed to travel abroad without facing restrictions. Notably, many Indians, who received this vaccine, have been facing issues in traveling abroad.
WHO has so far given its EUL to seven COVID-19 vaccines. They are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine, two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Moderna's shot, and China's Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. The EUL is a risk-based procedure that considers vaccines for assessment and listing. The process also includes therapeutics and in-vitro diagnostics.
"Globally, the world is in need of vaccines and we have to ensure that this is a global war, and many countries are still not getting vaccinated," said Dr. Naveet Wig, chairperson of the COVID-19 task force at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. "So we have to ensure that our vaccines should get the approval timely."