Health minister meets WHO chief scientist, talks nod for Covaxin | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Health minister meets WHO chief scientist, talks nod for Covaxin

By, New Delhi
Aug 13, 2021 06:08 AM IST

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has applied for WHO’s emergency use listing for the anti Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, that the company co-developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Union health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, met World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Thursday to discuss, among other coronavirus disease (Covid-19) related issues, Bharat Biotech’s impending approval for the Covaxin vaccine with the UN health body.

A nurse prepares a dose of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination center.(Bloomberg)
A nurse prepares a dose of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination center.(Bloomberg)

“Held a meeting with Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of @WHO. We had a productive discussion on WHO’s approval of @BharatBiotech’s COVAXIN. @DoctorSoumya also appreciated India’s efforts for the containment of #Covid-19,” tweeted health minister Mandaviya.

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Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has applied for WHO’s emergency use listing for the anti Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, that the company co-developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

All documents required for the emergency use listing (EUL) have been submitted by Bharat Biotech for Covaxin to the World Health Organization by July 9, and the review process by the UN health body has also started.

“The discussion was fruitful. The EUL process is on track; and the approval should come through soon. There’s a due process that needs to be followed, which takes its own time,” said a senior government official familiar with the matter, on condition of anonymity.

Responding to question on whether it has come to the notice of the government that Covaxin used in India as Covid vaccine is not recognised by many countries, minister of state for health, Bharati Pravin Pawar, in a written reply earlier in Parliament said, “The Government of India is aware that Covaxin at present is not part of WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL).”

Elaborating on efforts that have been made by the government to resolve this issue, Pawar had said, “All documents required for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) have been submitted by Bharat Biotech International Ltd. to WHO as of 9th July 2021. The review process by WHO has commenced. WHO usually takes up to six weeks to decide on Emergency Use Listing (EUL) submissions.”

Developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with National Institute of Virology and ICMR, Covaxin was approved for emergency use on January 3, 2021. The clinical trials have shown that the vaccine has an efficacy if nearly 78%.

Bharat Biotech has repurposed its Chiron Behring manufacturing plant in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, that it had been using for anti-rabies vaccine production, to scale up production of Covaxin.

“Decision to manufacture Covaxin at Ankleshwar Gujarat was taken several months ago with planning and preparatory activities. Facility preparations and production activities commenced during June 2021, Product will be available for supplies during September 2021,” said a person familiar with the matter, on condition of anonymity.

With a couple of other public sector undertakings (PSU) also being roped in for manufacturing Covaxin doses, the production number of Covaxin is projected to increase from the current 25 million doses a month to at least 58 million doses, according to the government.

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