India just approved the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, alongside a homegrown alternative
- Health officials in India approved two Covid-19 vaccines on Sunday, including one made by AstraZeneca, for emergency use.
- While announcing the emergency use, VG Somani, the country's drug's controller general said the vaccines were "110% safe," according to The Times of India.
- "A decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight," India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, said on Twitter.
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Health officials in India on Sunday approved two Covid-19 vaccines, including one made by AstraZeneca, for emergency use.
"A decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight," India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, said on Twitter.
The drugs controller general of India approved a local drug made by Bharat Biotech, along with the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, according to officials and media reports.
In announcing the emergency use, VG Somani, DCGI chief, said the vaccines were "110% safe," according to The Times of India.
AstraZeneca's manufacturing partner, Serum Institute of India, will work to produce its drug locally, according to CEO Adar Poonawalla. AstraZeneca's drug is called Covishield in India.
Happy new year, everyone! All the risks @SerumInstIndia took with stockpiling the vaccine, have finally paid off. COVISHIELD, India's first COVID-19 vaccine is approved, safe, effective and ready to roll-out in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/TcKh4bZIKK— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) January 3, 2021
Although the drugs were approved for emergency use, they haven't finished clinical trials, the government said. Phase 3 trials for Bharat's drug, Covaxin, are underway with about 20,000 volunteers in 26 hospitals, said Suchitra Ella, Bharat's joint managing director, in a televised interview with Rajya Sabha TV on Friday.
With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is the world's second-most populous country. It plans to vaccinate 300 million people by July, according to Gulf News. That will include 30 million healthcare and frontline workers.
The country has been hard hit by Covid-19. About 149,435 people have died from it in India, according to figures from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
With 10.3 million confirmed cases, it's behind only the US's 20.4 million cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Like elsewhere, rumours have spread about vaccine side effects. In India, some worried the vaccine would make people impotent, a falsehood Somani sought to end on Sunday.
"Some side effects like mild fever, pain & allergy are common for every vaccine. [The impotence rumour] is absolute rubbish," he said, according to the Times of India.
After the emergency approval announcement, Modi thanked frontline workers for their work battling Covid-19.
"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," he said.