India approves Moderna Covid vaccine as it races to reach December target

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File: A vial containing doses of the Moderna vaccine seen at a vaccination centre in Spain on 9 June, 2021 (REUTERS)
File: A vial containing doses of the Moderna vaccine seen at a vaccination centre in Spain on 9 June, 2021 (REUTERS)

India has given emergency use authorisation to the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, making it the fourth coronavirus shot available in the country.

During a press briefing, India’s Covid task force chief Dr VK Paul said that an “application received from Moderna through their Indian partner Cipla has been granted a new drug permission for restricted use, commonly known as emergency use authorisation”.

He pointed out that this is the first internationally developed vaccine for which such permission exists and this opens up the possibility of the Moderna vaccine being imported into India in the near future.

Moderna’s shot will be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in India after the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab — locally produced by Serum Institute of India and branded as Covishield here, domestic firm Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russia’s Sputnik V.

Dr Paul said that the Indian government’s “efforts to invite and to have other internationally developed vaccines, specifically Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, are also continuing.”

This comes as India is ramping up its vaccination drive with the aim of inoculating its entire adult population by the end of this year. Dr Paul said that India is also looking forward to increased production of the vaccines manufactured in the country.

India has so far only fully vaccinated less than 5 per cent of its population, according to a Reuters tracker. Health ministry data showed that the country administered 5.2 million doses on Monday, but experts have said 10 million doses a day need to be administered to achieve the December goal.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that it was exploring ways to speed up delivery of its single-shot vaccine in India. A spokesperson told The Economic Times that the company would no longer undertake local trials for its vaccine because India has scrapped this requirement.

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