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Pfizer has sought emergency approval for COVID-19 vaccine in India: Government adviser

The U.S. company, whose vaccine was recently approved in Britain, approached Indian authorities on Saturday, V.K. Paul, who is advising the government on COVID-19 matters, said.

December 10, 2020 / 05:37 PM IST

Pfizer Inc has applied for emergency use authorisation of its coronavirus vaccine in India, a top government health adviser said in a TV interview on Sunday, the first to do so in a country with the world’s second-highest number of infections.

The U.S. company, whose vaccine was recently approved in Britain, approached Indian authorities on Saturday, V.K. Paul, who is advising the government on COVID-19 matters, said.


“We welcome interest from Pfizer to seek emergency licensure in our country,” Paul told NDTV.


India’s drugs regulator typically takes up to 90 days to decide on such applications but a decision on Pfizer’s vaccine could come much faster than that, Paul said.


“This will be decided, I hope, sooner than later,” he said.


The health ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Pfizer’s officials in India could not immediately be reached for comment.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Paul had said in November vaccines developed by Pfizer and rival Moderna Inc may not be available in India in big quantities soon.


India is hoping five locally-tested vaccines, including one being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, will help it to control the virus.


The Pfizer shot needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below, temperatures that industry experts say many cold storage facilities in India will find it difficult to maintain.

India has reported more 9.57 million COVID-19 cases, the world’s second highest after the United States, with nearly 140,000 deaths.

Reuters
first published: Dec 7, 2020 07:57 am
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