The World Health Organization (WHO) has granted emergency authorization to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday. Serum Institute of India and South Korea’s AstraZeneca-SKBio are making the Covid-19 vaccines.
The granting of emergency authorization would allow the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to countries under the United Nation-backed program to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. AstraZeneca is the second vaccine to get WHO’s emergency authorization following Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine in December.
According to news reports, WHO’s Assistant-Director General Dr Mariangela Simao said that countries not having vaccines will finally be able to vaccinate their health workers. “Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk,” said Dr Mariangela Simao.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper and easier to handle when compared with the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer needs deep-cold storage for its vaccines. This feature is not available in many countries especially making it difficult for under developing and developed countries. Two shots per vaccine must be administered weeks apart. Last week, the vaccine experts of WHO had recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine for those above 18 years of age and also countries that have variants of the Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, as of February 16, India has completed a total of 87,40,595 vaccinations. In a press briefing, the Union Health Ministry has said that 62,82,646 healthcare workers have been vaccinated. Of these, 61,11,968 (60.5%) have received the first dose and 1,70,678 (37.5%) have taken the second dose of those eligible for the vaccination. India has vaccinated 24,57,949 (26.3%) frontline workers.
Reportedly, the second round of vaccination hit a technical glitch. The CoWIN app hit a glitch affecting the second round of the Covid-19 vaccination drive in Mumbai. According to some reports, only 71 health workers only could be vaccinated while the rest had to leave due to a technical glitch in the app.
After 42 days, Maharashtra has overtaken Kerala to record the highest number of cases. The state has imposed a night curfew to reduce the number of cases. With rising cases, the Maharashtra government has warned of strict action to implement restrictions, however, the government is yet to impose a lockdown. With the resumptions of trains in the state and ease in restrictions, the Covid-19 cases have once again started rising.
On Monday, the Union health ministry, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala are contributing to nearly 77% of 1.39 lakh Covid-19 cases in the country.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra and Karnataka have imposed restrictions on people travelling from Kerala. Both states have made it mandatory for those travelling from Kerala to have negative RT-PCR certificates which should be done 72 hours before taking the flight or train.
Meanwhile, Kerala has become the second state after Maharashtra to record more than 10 lakh Covid-19 cases in the country. On Monday, Kerala recorded 2,884 Covid-19 cases, 5,073 recoveries and 13 deaths. The state tested only 39,463 samples and the Test Positivity Rate is currently at 7.31%. Kerala has also completed vaccination for 70% of registered Healthcare Workers.