The wait for India’s first indigenously-developed COVID-19 vaccine to receive World Health Organisation (WHO) approval is set to end within a day. A WHO spokesperson said a technical advisory group was reviewing data on Covaxin and if “all is in place and all goes well and if the committee is satisfied, we would expect a recommendation” on its emergency use listing within 24 hours.
India had applied to the WHO for emergency use listing of the vaccine in April. The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) had granted restricted emergency use approval for Covaxin in January. The Serum Institute-produced Covishield vaccine also received approval in January and has been used to inoculate the majority of vaccine recipients in India.
According to Bharat Biotech, Covaxin demonstrated 77.8 per cent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 and 93.4 per cent efficacy against severe illness.
Between January and July 16, 54.5 million doses of Covaxin were supplied to the government, with Bharat Biotech committing over 500 million doses to the Centre.
If Covaxin is approved by the WHO, it would join vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca-Oxford, Moderna, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
The approval of Covaxin will be a relief for Indians who have already been inoculated with the vaccine. From November 8, the United States will only admit foreign travellers who have been fully vaccinated with WHO-approved jabs alongside a negative COVID-19 report. Indians studying in the US who had received Covaxin whilst in India have already reported facing issues with university vaccine mandates, in some cases having to get vaccinated again.