Amid concerns of the new strain of coronavirus (Covid-19) spreading in India, AIIMS Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine getting approved for use in the UK was a “big step forward” and India was days away from getting a vaccine.
“This is very good news that AstraZeneca got approval for its vaccine by UK regulatory authorities. They have robust data and in India the same vaccine is being developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII). This is a big step forward not only for India but many parts of the world,” Guleria told ANI in an interview.
“This vaccine can be stored at two to eight degrees centigrade. Therefore it would be easy to store and transport. Storage can be done using a simple fridge rather than what is required in the Pfizer vaccine of minus 70 degrees centigrade,” he said. “We vaccinate children and pregnant women as part of our universal immunisation program. Using the same platform to store vaccines at 2 to 8 degrees centigrade, it will be easier for us to store Covid-19 vaccines,” he added.
“Now, we have a data, and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved based on the studies in UK, Brazil and South Africa. There is also data from SII. I think, once the data is shown to the regulatory authority, we should get approval for the vaccine in the county within a few days. I would say days rather than weeks or months,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pune-based SII has sought emergency approval for the vaccine–Covishield– developed along with global pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Company CEO Adar Poonawalla on Monday said Covishield rollout is expected in January and 40-50 million doses of the vaccine have already been stockpiled.
This comes in the backdrop of Covid-19 cases in the country crossing the 10.22 million-mark on Wednesday. According to the health ministry website, there are 262,272 active cases of Covid-19 and 98,341,41 people have recovered from the disease so far. As many as 148,439 have lost their lives due to the infection.