Terming the approval for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the UK as a “big step forward”, AIIMS Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Wednesday said that India will have the COVID-19 vaccine within days. On Wednesday, the UK approved a cheaper and easy-to-handle COVID-19 vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca for human use. This is the second coronavirus vaccine to be cleared for rollout in Britain after the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs.
“This is very good news that AstraZeneca got approval for its vaccine by UK regulatory authorities. They have robust data and in India and the same vaccine is being developed by the Serum Institute of India. This is a big step forward not only for India but many parts of the world,” Dr Guleria told.
“This vaccine can be stored at two to eight degrees centigrade. Therefore it would be easy to store and transportation. Storage can be done using a simple fridge rather than what is required in the Pfizer vaccine of minus 70 degrees centigrade,” All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, New Delhi Director Dr Guleria said.
On the issue of COVID-19 vaccination drive in India, he said, “India to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for a large part of the country and therefore we will see the vaccine available in our country in the very near future.”
When asked about how much time is needed for the roll-out of COVID vaccine in the country, Dr Guleria said, “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 Serum Institute of India (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.” Dr Guleria, who is a member of the national task force on Covid-19 management, said that the country has a “robust plan as far as the vaccination is concerned”.
“We vaccinate children and pregnant women as part of our universal immunization 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 while emphasising on the easy storage process in comparison to Pfizer vaccine of minus 70 degrees centigrade.
Meanwhile, the Pune-based Serum Institute of India has sought emergency approval for the vaccine–Covishield– developed along with global pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
In what could be termed as New Year gift, Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, Serum Institute of India on Monday said 40-50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have already been stockpiled, adding that Covishield rollout is expected in January.