Zimbabwe approves Covaxin, first in Africa to okay India-made Covid-19 vaccine
The Indian embassy in Zimbabwe announced on Thursday the African country has approved the made-in-India vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Covaxin, becoming the first country in the continent to approve the shot developed by Bharat Biotech International Limited.
“Zimbabwe has authorized use of COVAXIN, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country in Africa to do so. Trying to get it to Zimbabwe at an early date,” the embassy, located in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare, tweeted.
The development comes a day after Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech announced that Covaxin has an efficacy rate of 81%, based on preliminary results from its phase 3 clinical trials. Covaxin, India’s first and so far the only homemade shot against the viral disease, found itself at the centre of a controversy in January, when it was one of the two vaccines cleared by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the country’s vaccination drive, which began on January 16.
It was alleged that Covaxin was given approval for use without the completion of its phase 3 trials. The other, Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s vaccine, was last year found to be more than 70% effective against the disease. Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine as Covishield in the country.
On Monday, when the second phase of the vaccination drive commenced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was administered his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. PM Modi chose to be administered a shot of Covaxin to clear the hesitancy surrounding it; second dose will be administered after 28 days.
Under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative, India has been sending consignments of vaccine doses to several countries. However, the doses being dispatched are of Covishield. Last month, Bharat Biotech had sought approval for Covaxin in more than 40 countries.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Zimbabwe, which has a population of more than 14 million, has recorded 36,179 Covid-19 cases thus far. The related death toll here stands at 1,478.