India to approve vaccines green-lit by WHO, others

NEW DELHI (AP) — India said yesterday that it will approve the use of all coronavirus vaccines that have been given an emergency nod by the World Health Organization (WHO) or regulators in the United States (US), Europe, Britain or Japan.

India’s Health Ministry said the decision was aimed at hastening the use of shots made in other countries and expanding the “basket of vaccines” available for domestic use.

The country of almost 1.4 billion people is seeing a crippling surge of infections that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals in hard-hit cities.

The only way out of the crisis, experts said, is to vaccinate more people. But this has global implications since India is a major vaccine producer and India’s domestic needs have delayed the delivery of shots to the United Nations (UN)-backed COVAX initiative that is aimed at distributing vaccines equitably.

India had earlier given the nod to the AstraZeneca vaccine made by Serum Institute of India and another one made by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

The Health Ministry said yesterday that the Russian Sputnik V vaccine was also green-lit for emergency use.

Now, vaccines that have received emergency use authorisation by regulators in the US, Europe, Britain, Japan or the WHO can be used in India. The first 100 people who receive these shots will be monitored for a week to check for safety before being administered to more people, the Health Ministry said.

Employees pack boxes containing vials of AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine at the Serum Institute of India. PHOTO: AP