V.G. Somani, Drug Controller General India (DCGI), at a webinar on Thursday indicated that India was close to approving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Mr. Somani was participating in a webinar, organised by the Department of Biotechnology, that saw vaccine experts, infectious disease experts and representatives of companies developing vaccines discussing COVID vaccine development and India’s preparation.
“We will probably have a Happy New Year with something in hand,” he said while discussing the regulatory process as well as the participation by academicians, industry and infectious disease experts in working towards developing vaccine candidates.
On Friday, the Subject Expert Committee, which is an expert body of the DCGI, that is perusing applications by companies developing vaccines in India, is expected to review applications by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech (BB) for emergency use authorisation. Under this, companies are given permission to market the vaccine even if they haven’t furnished all the evidence normally required to establish the product’s safety and efficacy.
SII has partnered with AstraZeneca to bring to market the Oxford vaccine, which has been approved by health authorities in the United Kingdom on Wednesday. Both SII had BB are testing the vaccine in ongoing phases-3 trials in India, the results of which have not been publicised yet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday also suggested that a vaccine was at hand.
“Earlier, I said, ‘Dawai nahi toh dheelai nahi’ (No laxity till a cure is found). Now, I am saying ‘Dawai bhi aur kadaai bhi’ (Along with the medicine, be vigilant). Our mantra for the year 2021 is ‘Dawai bhi aur kadaai bhi’,” he said after laying the foundation stone of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rajkot through video conferencing.
Stating that India is getting ready to run the world’s largest vaccination programme, the Prime Minister said India has turned into the nerve-centre of global health. He also cautioned against rumours about COVID vaccination.
“Different people for their personal gains or due to irresponsible behaviour spread various rumours. Maybe rumours will be spread when vaccination begins, some have already begun,” he said.
“I appeal to the people of the country that the fight against COVID-19 is the one against an unknown enemy. Be careful about such rumours and as responsible citizens refrain from forwarding messages on social media without checking,” Mr. Modi said