October 22, 2021

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Coronavirus vaccine: India may get Oxford COVID-19 shots in Jan-Feb, at 50 per cent less than MRP: Report


India may get the first slot of coronavirus vaccines in late January or early February 2021 if all goes well as planned.
Key Highlights
The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate is currently in the final phase of testing in India
ICMR and Bharat Biotech this month started third-stage trials of India’s first coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN
Worldwide, at least 1,381,915 people have now lost their lives to COVID-19 pandemic
New Delhi: If all goes well, India may get the first slot of coronavirus vaccines in late January or early February 2021 even as the Central government is in the final process of signing a contract with vaccine manufacturers for the procurement of potential vaccine doses. However, this will be possible if the Serum Institute of India (SII) gets emergency use approval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from the Indian regulatory body after getting similar approval from the UK.
According to a report, citing an official source, the government may get the two-shot vaccine developed by the University of Oxford at 50 per cent less than MRP, which will be likely of Rs 500-600 per dose. If the vaccine arrives by February, frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, municipal employees, and armed forces will be vaccinated first.
The Pune-based firm is likely to apply for emergency use for the Oxford vaccine, dubbed Covishield in India, next month.
“If everything goes as per plan and the company (SII) manages to secure emergency authorisation in December, we are expecting the first lot of vaccines by January-February and the first set of beneficiaries has been identified,” the official was quoted as saying.
To innoculate 25-30 crore priority population categorised into four different groups, an estimated 50-60 crore doses will be required. However, an estimated 70 lakh healthcare professionals and over 2 crore frontline workers will be given the vaccine with limited stocks expected by the end of January.
“If Serum Institute submits its efficacy data from the UK and applies for emergency authorisation here, it can easily be granted, But even in case of Bharat Biotech, if the company applies for emergency use approval after its data from phase 1 and 2 are published, the regulator can consider the same,” the official added, indicating the more than one vaccine may get at least emergency use authorisation by February-March provided the vaccines meet primary efficacy endpoints.
The report added that the Serum Institute has almost completed the phase 3 trials of Covishield and a follow-up of the data is expected soon. Regulatory sources also told the Daily that Bharat Biotech is in the process of publishing data for its vaccine, COVAXIN, which is India’s first indigenous vaccine against COVID-19. COVAXIN, which is being developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with ICMR, is undergoing phase 3 trials across the country. On Sunday,  Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan hinted that the vaccine could complete its final trials in a month or two. So, it is likely that two vaccines would become available by February next year if everything goes as planned. 
Meanwhile, a report has claimed that Britain could give emergency approval to Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week after the companies said that results from final trials showed their jab was found to be 95 per cent effective and had no serious side effects on older people. Last Friday, the companies announced that they will submit a request today to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of their mRNA vaccine candidate, BNT162b2 against SARS-CoV-2, which will potentially enable use of the vaccine in high-risk populations in the U.S. by the middle to end of December 2020.

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