Moments after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved Serum Institute of India's 'Covishield' vaccine and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' for emergency use against coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) welcomed the decision. A statement by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia Region read, "WHO welcomes the first emergency use authorization given to COVID-19 vaccine in the WHO South-East Asia Region."
"This decision taken today by India will help intensify and strengthen the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the Region. The use of vaccine in prioritized populations, along with continued implementation of other public health measures and community participation will be important in reducing the impact of COVID-19," it added.
The approved vaccines will be first offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.
The expert panel had earlier recommended granting permission for restricted emergency use of 'Covaxin' in "public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, especially in the context of infection by mutant strains.
This is a major relief for India which has the second-highest number of infections in the world, after the US. The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive in the next six to eight months.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter today and said, "It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India! This shows the eagerness of our scientific community to fulfil the dream of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, at the root of which is care and compassion."
In another tweet, the prime minister said, "We reiterate our gratitude to doctors, medical staff, scientists, police personnel, sanitation workers and all Corona warriors for the outstanding work done, that too in adverse circumstances. We will remain eternally grateful to them for saving many lives."
The approval for emergency use of coronavirus vaccines come as a major relief for India which has the second-highest number of infections in the world, after the US.
The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the drive in the next six to eight months.