The government is looking forward to receiving recognition from the World Health Organization for its indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research. This will be a milestone for the India-made vaccine, Niti Aayog member (health) VK Paul said, during the press briefing on Friday.
“We are working with both Bharat Biotech and WHO to make it happen. Data sharing is going on. we are very keen that this milestone is achieved as soon as possible,” Dr Paul said, explaining that the process entails various stages of data sharing. The government will pursue the case on both the front, he said.
Bharat Biotech on May 24 conveyed to the government that it has already submitted 90 per cent of the documents for obtaining the emergency use listing for Covaxin. The approval is expected by September, the Hyderabad-based company said.
China’s Sinovac has recently got approval from WHO, making it the second Chinese vaccine to be recognised by the international body for emergency listing. Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine was already recognised by the organisation.
Among the vaccines that are being administered in India, Serum Institute’s Covishield has been granted emergency use approval by WHO.
Why does it matter? WHO emergency listing gives international recognition to vaccines. Though there has been no decision on vaccine passport, it was speculated that countries may allow travellers inoculated only by the vaccines which have WHO approval. It was apprehended that Indians vaccinated by Covaxin may not be allowed to travel to other countries. But the Centre has clarified that no country has come up with such a practice and a negative RT-PCR report remains valid for the entry.
According to the ‘Status of COVID-19 Vaccines within WHO EUL/PQ evaluation process’ guidance document dated May 18 on the WHO website, Bharat Biotech submitted EOI (Expression of Interest) on April 19 and “more information (is) required”. A pre-submission meeting is expected “to be planned May-June 2021”, the guidance document said.