India is a step closer in getting a vaccine for the coronavirus disease. After the United Kingdom, which is battling a new strain of the coronavirus, approved the vaccine being made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, India too is expected to follow suit. A meeting of the expert panel of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) will take place on Friday where a decision is expected. Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which is manufacturing the adenovirus vaccine in India, has already applied for its emergency approval.
Meanwhile, China has given conditional approval for general public use to a Covid-19 vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG). The approval is the first for general public use among a handful of Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidates in various stages of development. Colombia and Bolivia have reached deals with Johnson & Johnson and Russia respectively for a vaccine.
Here are the latest updates on the Covid-19 vaccine:
1. In the United States (US), Kansas governor Laura Kelly has received the first of two vaccine shots. Kelly designated herself and 10 other state officials as eligible to commence vaccination this week. The governor added that hundreds of other, non-elected state officials have been made eligible for early vaccines by their agencies. “We’re putting them in line so that we can ensure that the state government can continue to function,” Kelly said. Till now, only about 2.7 million Americans have been vaccinated as of Wednesday evening in New York, according to Bloomberg.
2. Syringe and needle makers in Brazil warned that the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program was at risk after the Jair Bolsonaro-led government set very low auction prices and further failed to draw bids for enough syringes to meet requirements. The health ministry on Tuesday had sought to purchase 331 million syringes at an electronic auction but ended up purchasing only eight million, or 2.5 per cent of the target. Brazil which is also the third worst-hit country from the pandemic has not yet approved a vaccine and is already lagging behind neighbours-Argentina and Chile in rolling out doses.
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3. On Wednesday, Britain became the first country to approve a low-cost vaccine which is partially developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Unlike the ones developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, the Oxford-AstraZeneca based vaccine does not to be stored at very low temperatures. It can be stored, transported and handled in normal refrigerated conditions which makes it cheaper to administer. Upon the approval, Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated the manufacturers and said the government would now move to vaccinate as many people as possible.
4. Amid the news of Britain approving the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria told news agency ANI that India would have a Covid-19 vaccine within days. “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,” he said.
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5. Algeria is set to roll out the Russian-based Sputnik V vaccine in January. The country’s communications minister Ammar Belhimer said that the government had signed a mutual agreement with a Russian laboratory for acquiring vaccine shots from January. Meanwhile, finance ministry director general Abdelaziz Fayed told local broadcaster Echorouk that authorities will receive an initial shipment of 500,000 vaccine doses. As per the health ministry, Algeria has logged nearly 100,000 coronavirus cases and over 2,700 related deaths.
(With agency inputs)