In India fight against Covid-19, on Thursday, the central government has said that the Indian drug regulator will be taking a call on approving emergency use of Covid-19 vaccines in a meeting on January 1.
Serum Institute of India and Oxford University partnered to develop ‘Covishield’. AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech partnered with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in developing ‘Covaxin’. Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer have filed applications for emergency use approval for the Covid-19 vaccine. A government-appointed panel of experts met on Wednesday to consider the applications.
On Wednesday, Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have put forward their presentations before the panel. Reportedly, Pfizer has sought additional time to present their data before the expert panel. The central government has said that the expert panel is still analysing the data and a meeting will be held on January 1 to take a call on the applications.
Reportedly, once the panel clears the vaccine, the applications will be forwarded to Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for final approval. Once the final approval is given, the central government can start administrating the vaccine immediately. The Centre has planned to begin giving the first round of shots from next month. With the new coronavirus strain detected in various cities in India and more samples being analysed, the government is eager to administer the vaccine as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Dr Randeep Guleria told news agencies on Wednesday, that there is a possibility that the new Covid strain could have entered India before December.
“There is a possibility that this may happen because we must remember that this strain was first reported at the end of September and there were people who have an infection with this strain in the UK,” Dr Guleria said, adding that it is difficult to confirm it and will have to depend on data.
"The number was not very high but we had travel going on from the UK even then. There is a possibility that this strain may have been even before December and it may have entered in India in November or early part of December," he told the news agency, adding that the new strain is more infectious and is a matter of concern. Dr Guleria also said that India should be getting a vaccine within days.
Meanwhile, after the successful Covid-19 vaccine trial run across four States, the central government has asked all States and Union Territories to conduct vaccine trial runs on January 2, to ensure effective preparedness when the vaccine rollout begins. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has said the exercise will be taking place in at least three session sites. The health ministry has also said that Kerala and Maharashtra will be conducting their trial in major cities besides their capitals.
Speaking of Kerala. On Thursday evening, the State has reported that 32 returnees from the UK have tested positive for Covid-19. Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune for further analysis. Meanwhile, the State Health Department has reported 5,215 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday. In the last 24 hours, Kerala has reported 5,376 recoveries and 30 deaths. The State has collected 58,283 sample tests and the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is currently at 8.95%.