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Oxford Vaccine by Serum Institute May Get Govt Nod in India Before UK

The Drug Controller of India is expected to clear the Oxford vaccine shot for emergency use in the coming weeks

New Delhi: Amid fears of a new variant, Pune’s Serum Institute of India (SII) may be able to get approval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against coronavirus before the UK where it was originally developed, government officials said on Tuesday. The Drug Controller of India is expected to clear the Oxford vaccine shot for emergency use in the coming weeks.

The government committee for vaccine approval is currently going through applications of at least three firms that have sought for emergency use in India. These include Pfizer, Serum Institute’s Oxford vaccine and Bharat Biotech. The committee said it will release one of these vaccines to the public as soon as the clinical data provided is found satisfactory.

Besides, even as the UK and the US have approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, it may be difficult to distribute in India. As a result, the Serum Institute’s Covishield is likely to be furnished first if the data is found suitable.

An official familiar with the development told Mint that discussions between the government and Serum Institute are underway for procurement of Covishield doses and a decision on it could be formally announced as early as this week.

The Centre last Tuesday said the applications — by Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India and Pfizer — filed with the Drugs Controller General of India are being examined by the COVID-19 subject expert committee of Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

The parliamentary committee report noted that the CDSCO has given no emergency use authorisation in the past, and suggested that all necessary and mandatory requirements must be duly fulfilled and all trial phases completed.

It also recommended that learning from the experience of the pandemic, there is a need for a comprehensive public health act preferably at the national level with suitable legal provisions to support the government in keeping checks and controls over the private hospitals “as there have been reports about the selling of hospital beds by them”.

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