In a telephonic conversation with Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, World Health Organisation Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday discussed the emergency use listing of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The resumption of supplies of the Serum Institute of India-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine to the COVAX facility was also discussed among the two.
Taking to Twitter, WHO chief Ghebreyesus on Tuesday said, “Had a call with @mansukhmandviya, India’s Health Minister, to discuss #India’s ongoing #COVID19 vaccination programme; the need for a global pandemic agreement; digital health; & traditional medicine.”
“We welcome India’s support to strengthen WHO, incl. via flexible, sustainable financing,” Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO Director-General said that he also discussed vaccine equity issues with Mandaviya.
Health Minister Mandaviya also took to Twitter and confirmed he had a ‘detailed iteraction’ with the WHO chief, who was also accompanied by other senior officials of the global health agency “on various issues related to health, including pandemic management and WHO reforms.
“DG WHO lauded the mammoth efforts undertaken by the Indian government for #COVID19 vaccination,” Mandaviya tweeted.
What WHO said on Covaxin
Earlier on Monday, the WHO said it is expecting one additional piece of information from Bharat Biotech regarding its COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN and emphasised that it has to thoroughly evaluate to ensure vaccines are safe and “cannot cut corners” before recommending a vaccine for emergency use.
“We are aware that many people are waiting for WHO’s recommendation for Covaxin to be included in the #COVID19 Emergency Use Listing, but we cannot cut corners – before recommending a product for emergency use, we must evaluate it thoroughly to make sure it is safe and effective,” the global health organisation had said in a tweet.
“Bharat Biotech – the manufacturer of Covaxin – has been submitting data to WHO on a rolling basis and WHO experts have reviewed these data. WHO is expecting one additional piece of information from the company today,” it said.
WHO said the timeframe for its Emergency Use Listing procedure is dependent on how quickly a company producing the vaccine is able to provide the data required for the WHO to evaluate the vaccine’s quality, safety, efficacy and its suitability for low- and middle-income countries.
“When the information provided addresses all questions raised, WHO and the Technical Advisory Group will complete the assessment and come to a final recommendation whether to grant Emergency Use Listing to the vaccine,” it said.
Bharat Biotech had submitted EOI (Expression of Interest) on April 19 for its vaccine. The WHO said it began rolling data of the vaccine on July 6. Rolling data allows the WHO to start its review right away, as information continues to come in, to accelerate the overall review process.
According to the WHO, submissions to the global health body for prequalification or listing under the emergency use procedure are confidential. If a product submitted for assessment is found to meet the criteria for listing, WHO will publish the results widely.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s Covishield are the two widely used vaccines in India.
(With inputs from PTI)
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