India Approves Local Vaccine

India is the world's second worst affected country by COVID-19, recording nearly 9.7 million infections and more than 140,000 deaths. (AFP)

India has authorised the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines developed by local pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech and Oxford University’s AstraZeneca vaccine distributed by Serum Institute of India according to the country’s drug regulator. At a news briefing on Sunday, Drugs Controller General Dr Venugopal G Somani said both vaccines would be administered in two doses.

Serum Institute of India chief executive Adar Poonwalla said approval for distribution of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine — of which the company is already making 50-60 million doses a month — “will save countless lives”.  “As promised, before the end of 2020, @SerumInstIndia has applied for emergency use authorization for the first made-in-India vaccine, COVISHIELD,” Poonawalla tweeted.

U.S. giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have already been approved for their coronavirus vaccine in India to be rolled out in January. AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be stored at the temperature of a normal fridge, while Pfizer’s needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit).

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