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Expect India to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in next few days, says SII's Cyrus Poonawalla

Britain on December 30 became the first nation to approve the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

December 30, 2020 / 01:48 PM IST

The Serum Institute of India (SII) expects the government to give emergency use authorisation for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the next few days after the United Kingdom on December 30 approved the coronavirus jab for use.

Speaking to CNBC TV-18, Cyrus Poonawalla, the chairman of Poonawalla Group that includes Serum Institute of India, said, "SII is expecting regulatory approval in India in the next few days."

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The government was yet to place a purchase order for the Covishield vaccine, Poonawalla said. "SII is ready to distribute the vaccine once the approval comes in. India will come first, then other countries," he added.

Britain became the first nation to approve the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

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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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The United Kingdom government said that it accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) "to authorise Oxford University/AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for use". The rollout is expected to begin as early as next week.

Earlier, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla had also said that the vaccine maker is hoping for the emergency use approval of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this month or January in India.

"The emergency use licensure is expected to come by December or January in the UK, and simultaneously we hope to get approval in India as well," CEO Adar Poonawalla said.

"There are no concerns at all (with vaccine safety and efficacy), we will be hearing some good news very soon. All the data has been submitted to the UK and Indian regulators. We must respect the process adopted by the regulators," Poonawalla added.

Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak
first published: Dec 30, 2020 01:48 pm

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