India’s vaccine wait is over, with two vaccines for COVID-19 as Oxford Institute’s Covishield- developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, received emergency approval from the country’s drug regulator today.
Drug Controller General of India VG Somani while approving the vaccines said, “We’ll never approve anything if there is slightest of safety concern. The vaccines are 110 per cent safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine,” adding, Covishield was 70.42% effective, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was “safe and provides a robust immune response.”
Minutes later, PM Narendra Modi tweeted of this being a decisive turning point to “strengthen a spirited fight.” He wrote, “A decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight! DCGI granting approval to vaccines of @SerumInstIndia and @BharatBiotech accelerates the road to a healthier and COVID-free nation. Congratulations India. Congratulations to our hardworking scientists and innovators.”
“It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval are made in India! This shows the eagerness of our scientific community to fulfil the dream of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, at the root of which is care and compassion,” the PM added.
The chief executive of the Pune-based vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute India, Adar Poonawalla tweeted, “Happy new year, everyone! All the risks @SerumInstIndia took with stockpiling the vaccine, have finally paid off. COVISHIELD, India’s first COVID-19 vaccine is approved, safe, effective and ready to roll-out in the coming weeks.”
Previously, Poonawalla had said that the “majority of the first 50 million doses will go to India”.
Even the World Health Organisation welcomed India’s decision of the emergency use and authorisation of two coronavirus vaccines, stating that “it will help intensify and strengthen the fight against the pandemic in the region.”
“A watershed moment in India’s famed battle against COVID-19 under the leadership of PM Modi. Our wait for the vaccine is over with Covishield from Serum Institue of India and Covaxin from Bharat Biotech approved for emergency use in India,” Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
Home Minister Amit Shah said, “visionary leadership can make a huge difference. Time and again, we have seen a New India eager to innovate and help the humanity during crisis. The approval to Made in India vaccines will prove to be a game changer in boosting PM Narendra Modi’s vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”
Cabinet ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani congratulated the corona warriors with hashtags of AatmaNirbharBharat making its round on the tweets. Even various chief ministers (past and present) and state ministers lauded the PM’s and the health minister’s efforts in bringing the vaccine to a functional stage and conveyed their pride in the institutes.
Also Read: COVID-19: Covaxin cleared for emergency use
Not all, however, shared the feeling echoed by the BJP leaders. Some pointed doubts over the vaccine approval-specifically Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin on their Twitter handle. Congress leader Sashi Tharoor tweeted, “The Covaxin has not yet had Phase 3 trials. Approval was premature and could be dangerous. @drharshvardhan should please clarify. Its use should be avoided till full trials are over. India can start with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the meantime.”
Even Congress’ Jairam Ramesh has asked why the internationally accepted protocol is being modified for approving Covaxin by tweeting, “Bharat Biotech is a first-rate enterprise, but it is puzzling that internationally-accepted protocols relating to phase 3 trials are being modified for Covaxin. Health Minister @drharshvardhan should clarify.”
Srivatsa YB, a Congress leader from Karnataka tweeted, “How can Modi approve Covaxin which is still in clinical trials & efficacy data not published? Oxford-Astra Zeneca-Serum Institute Covishield is fine, but why Covaxin? What does ‘restricted use, conditional approval’ mean? Is BharatBiotech giving lots of Electoral Bonds to BJP?”