By Kaveesha Fernando
NEW DELHI, India (CWBN)_ Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla stated this weekend that India’s vaccination programme may begin in January next year and that he feels life will return to normal in India by October.
Poonawalla, who was one of the six “Asians of the Year” named by Singapore based The Straits Times for his work in combatting the pandemic, revealed that SII hopes for emergency authorisation by the end of the year. “We might get emergency license by this month-end, but licence for wider use might come at a later date,” he stated, adding that he is confident that India’s vaccination drive start by January 2021 if approval is given in December.
An expert committee of India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) earlier sought additional data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine from SII and one other Indian vaccine maker. The data requested included upgraded safety data of phase 2 and 3 of Indian clinical trials, immunogenicity data from UK and India clinical trials as well as the outcome of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s assessment.
A member of government think-tank Niti Aayog (The National Institution for Transforming India) Dr. V. K. Paul stated on Saturday that emergency use authorisation will only be given after the vaccine has been stringently checked. India’s drug regulator will analyse the safety and efficacy of the three COVID-19 vaccines which it has received emergency authorisation applications for before approving them, he said. He also pointed out that because vaccines and other drugs from India are used in a large number of countries, they need to be sure of its safety. However, he also indicated that he felt positive about approving the vaccine candidates.