India a step closer to 2nd home-grown Covid-19 vaccine

New Delhi, June 3 (EFE).- India came closer to getting its second indigenous Covid-19 vaccine after the government inked a deal with a pharma company for 300 million doses to be available in the coming months, the health ministry reported Thursday.

The country facing acute vaccine shortages is using a home-grown Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech laboratory.

Covaxin is used in India’s vaccination drive with British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca’s Covishield and the Russian Sputnik V.

“The proposal of Biological-E was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19,” the ministry said in a statement.

The government will be making an advance payment of 15 billion Indian rupees (around $205 million), allowing the firm to manufacture and stockpile the RBD protein sub-unit vaccine between August and December.

“This further stands testimony to commitment and relentless efforts of (the) govt (…) to fight (the coronavirus),” tweeted Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

The vaccine, currently undergoing phase 3 trials, is a part of the government’s Covid-19 vaccine mission to encourage indigenous manufacturers to support their research and development, and finance.

India has been resting its hopes on the countrywide vaccination drive to fight the pandemic after a deadly second wave of the coronavirus wreaked havoc over the last two months.

Hospitals suffered shortages of medical oxygen, hospital beds, and essential medicines while bodies piled up at crematoriums in several parts.

The country on Thursday reported over 130,000 infections in the last 24 hours, a significant decline from the over 400,0000 daily cases in early May.

The government has faced criticism for its management of the pandemic and its procurement policy for vaccines after the vaccination shortages hampered the drive.

The government promised to ramp up its inoculation drive and vaccinate the entire adult population of the country by December,

However, it has fully immunized only a little over 3.2 percent of its 1.3 billion population so far. EFE


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