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WHO gives green light for use of Indian COVID-19 vaccine

Thursday, November 4th 2021 - 18:58 UTC
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Covaxin joins the list of vaccines approved by WHO Covaxin joins the list of vaccines approved by WHO

The World Health Organization (who) has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by India's Bharat Biotech laboratory for emergency use, it was announced. The drug is known worldwide under its commercial brand: Covaxin.

“The Technical Advisory Group, convened by WHO and made up of regulatory experts from WHO around the world, has determined that the Covaxin vaccine meets WHO standards for protection against Covid-19,” the agency tweeted.

The use of this drug “far outweighs” the risks & the vaccine can be used on people aged 18 yeard of age or older and countries may start adding it to their immuniztion strategies. The WHO panel recommended Covaxin to be administered in two doses four weeks apart. This is the seventh vaccine to gain WHO endorsement and is in addition to recommended doses from Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac Biotech, and Sinopharm. The Russian-devloped Sputnik V vaccine has not yet been approved by the agency.

On June 4, Governor Axel Kicillof of the Argentine Province of Buenos Aires announced the signing of a contract for the purchase of 10 million doses, which have not yet been delivered. Provincial authorities at the time said they woulkd hand over the drugs to the federal government to be distributed nationwide.

“The announcement of this emergency use expands the availability of vaccines, the most effective medical tools to end the pandemic,” said Dr. Mariângela Simão, assistant to the WHO director general for access to medicines and health products.

Covaxin was developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the Medical Research Council of India, the government research body. The vaccine is made from a killed coronavirus to elicit an immune response and is given in two doses.

The WHO said it found about 78% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 and was “extremely useful” for poor countries because of its simpler storage conditions.

Bharat Biotech published results in July showing that the vaccine was 93% effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 and approximately 65% with the more contagious Delta variant.

In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the first of two doses of the vaccine. By mid-October, more than 110 million doses had been administered, making Covaxin the second most widely used COVID-19 vaccine in India after AstraZeneca.

Bharat Biotech said in a statement that countries can now expedite their regulatory approval processes to import & administer Covaxin. ”With validation from WHO, countries can now expedite their regulatory approval processes to import & administer Covaxin. UNICEF, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), GAVI COVAX facility, will be able to procure Covaxin for distribution to countries worldwide.“

Meanwhile, Dr Krishna Ella, Chairwoman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech said that it's a momentous occasion for Indian science. ”We are grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many other respected people for taking Covaxin to instil the confidence in Indian science,“ Ella said. ”It is a momentous occasion for the Indian innovation, entrepreneurship, start-ups and science. As a scientist, I pray that India's innovation is starting and is further going to boom as we go along,” she added.

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