India authorized two vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country.
The country’s drugs regulator gave emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.
Drugs Controller General Dr. Venugopal G. Somani said that both vaccines would be administered in two dosages. He said the decision to approve the vaccines was made after “careful examination” by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, India’s pharmaceutical regulator.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the vaccine approval a “decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight.”
“It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India!” Modi tweeted.
AstraZeneca has contracted Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, to make 1 billion doses of its vaccine for developing nations, including India. On Wednesday, Britain became the first country to approve the shot.
But questions have been raised by health experts over the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech. They point out that clinical trials began only recently, making it almost impossible for the firm to have analyzed and submitted data showing that its shots are effective in preventing illness from the coronavirus.
India has confirmed more than 10.3 million cases of the virus and over 149,000 deaths. SOVEREIGNPH