India approves Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine; 50 million doses stockpiled

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A government-appointed panel of experts has approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use and will send its recommendations to the country’s drugs regulator, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), reported Reuters.

More than 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have already been stockpiled by its local manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII). One of the sources said the shots could start to be transported from cold storage to Indian states as early as Saturday. The SII said in an email it would “wait for the final approval to come” before commenting.

India has reported more than 10 million cases. India is also considering emergency-use authorisation applications for vaccines made by Pfizer Inc with Germany’s BioNTech, and by India’s Bharat Biotech.

“Both AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech will get approval today,” one of the sources told Reuters earlier on Friday. “All preparations are on with today’s date in mind.”

On Wednesday, the Indian government said Pfizer had sought more time to present data for emergency authorisation of a vaccine it has developed with Germany’s BioNTech. Indian health authorities expect to start a vaccination drive for some 300 million people early next month.

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