Expert Panel Likely To Recommend Granting Emergency Approval For Astra-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine
A pharmacist prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Triboro Center nursing home in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S. (Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg)

Expert Panel Likely To Recommend Granting Emergency Approval For Astra-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine


An expert panel on Covid-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation is set to recommend granting emergency use authorisation for the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine Covishield, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India, sources said on Friday.

The Pune-based Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has tied up with AstraZeneca to manufacture Covishield.

The U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Wednesday had approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca for human use.

The Subject Expert Committee on Covid-19 of the CDSCO, which had earlier sought additional safety and immunogenicity data from SII, deliberated on its application seeking emergency use authorisation for the shots on Wednesday, and met again on Friday to review the matter.

After SII’s application, the committee has started reviewing the EUA application by Bharat Biotech for its Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin but is yet to take a final decision on the matter, sources said.

"In terms of safety, Covishield was well tolerated with respect to solicited adverse events...majority of solicited reactions were mild in severity and resolved without any sequelae," the EUA application signed by Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India, had stated.

"Therefore, Covishield is safe and can be used effectively for prevention of Covid-19 in the targeted population. Thus, the benefit to risk ratio strongly supports the widespread use of Covishield," it stated.

While the Astra-Oxford vaccine has been approved in the U.K., significant concerns have been raised around its efficacy and trial data. Yet, due to its relatively lower cost compared to the more effective Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it is being touted as key to large scale immunisation, particularly in poorer countries.

Also read: Astra’s Covid-19 Vaccine Won Approval, But How Good Is It?

SII had applied to the Drugs Controller General of India for EUA for Oxford Covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 6, while the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had sought the nod for its indigenously developed Covaxin on Dec. 7.

Pfizer has also applied for regulatory approval for its vaccine on Dec. 4.

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