Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech were on Sunday approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), for restricted emergency use in the country, a development which has paved way for a massive inoculation drive. Addressing the media, DCGI VG Somani had said, "After adequate examination, CDSCO has decided to accept the recommendations of the Expert Committee and, accordingly, vaccines of M/s Serum and Bharat Biotech are being approved for restricted use in an emergency situation." This clears the way for the roll-out of at least two vaccines in India in the coming days.
The Health Ministry has answered all commonly asked questions, that come with the approval of the vaccines.
Lakhs of people, who are suffering from cancer, diabetes and hypertension are in doubt on if it would be safe for them to take the coronavirus vaccine.
According to the Health Ministry, those suffering from one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered a high-risk category. Such people are advised to get COVID-19 vaccination.
The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has tied up with AstraZeneca to manufacture Covishield, while Covaxin has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The World Health Organisation also welcomed the move, saying it will "help intensify and strengthen the fight against the pandemic in the region".
Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted, "COVISHIELD, India's first COVID-19 vaccine is approved, safe, effective and ready to roll-out in the coming weeks."
SII had applied to the DCGI seeking nod for its vaccine on December 6, while Bharat Biotech submitted its application on December 7.
Pfizer had also applied for regulatory approval for its vaccine on December 4, but not much progress has been made on it after that.
Health Minister Vardhan said Bharat Biotech's vaccine is more likely to work against newer variants of coronavirus, including the UK variant, and asked politicians not to "discredit" the approval protocol.