NEW DELHI

India on Saturday allowed “restricted emergency use” of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and the country’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine developed by Covaxin, the Health Ministry announced.

According to an official statement, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) – the country’s drug regulatory body — met on Friday and Saturday to discuss the approval request from the two drug manufacturers and also Phase-III trials of a vaccine manufactured by Cadila Healthcare.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing the Covishield vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

Covaxin is made by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The committee also granted permission for Phase-III clinical trial to Ahmedabad-based Cadila Healthcare, which is also making a vaccine.

Earlier in the day, India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said during a news conference that one vaccine has received the nod for emergency use on Friday.

Officials say the final approval now lies with the country’s drug regulatory authority.

“As a public health intervention, the vaccines will put an end to lockdowns, night curfews and continued shutdown,” Dr Kapil Yadav, additional professor at Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told Anadolu Agency.

He said the public health fraternity welcomes the clearance of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines by an expert group.

– Challenges ahead

Talking about the Oxford vaccine, Professor Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, told Anadolu Agency: “There will certainly be challenges with cold chain and vaccinators in the months ahead, but I expect that India will perform better.”

He added that as much of the production capacity for this vaccine exists within India, it will be easier to carry out a successful vaccination program.

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