"Probably In New Year...": Drug Controller Hints At Vaccine Approval Soon

The assurance from the Drugs Controller General came ahead of a crucial meeting of the expert panel on emergency use vaccine authorization, which is set for tomorrow.

A government-appointed panel has taken up applications for emergency use approval of 3 vaccines.

New Delhi:

The approval for a Covid vaccine can come soon, the country's drugs control authority has indicated. At a webinar today, Drugs Controller General Dr VG Somani said, "Probably we will have a happy New Year with something in hand. That is what I can hint at". The assurance from the Drugs Controller General came ahead of a crucial meeting of the expert panel on emergency use vaccine authorization, which is set for tomorrow.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said "Preparations are in last stages for the vaccination programme against COVID-19. People will get vaccine manufactured in India".

This week, the government-appointed panel has taken up applications for the emergency use approval of vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer.

Serum Institute is making 'Covishield' developed by Oxford University and Pharma major AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech has partnered the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for its 'Covaxin'. Both firms have made presentations before the panel.

Pfizer has sought more time to present their data.

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Once cleared by the expert panel, the applications will go to the drug controller for approval.

Officials say the Oxford vaccine could be the first to get approval in India and be rolled out across the country.

The Serum Institute, which is manufacturing the vaccine, has assured that a majority of the first 50 million doses will go to India.

"At least for the first month, most of our doses will go to India. We have a deal with other COVAX countries, but for exporting we will need approvals from World Health Organisation and licenses. So, India will receive first," company chief Adar Poonawalla has said.