Covaxin, Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine has been granted Emergency Use Listing status by a World Health Organisation panel today. The nod could translate into the shot being accepted as a valid vaccine for millions of Indians who have received it and want to travel outside the country.
“The Technical Advisory Group (an independent panel that provides the WHO with vaccine recommendations) has determined Covaxin meets standards for protection against COVID-19… the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs risks (and) the vaccine can be used,” the global health body said.
The two-dose Covaxin hasn’t been recognised for international travel by several countries. The approval by the top health body could change that.
Recently, Australia and Oman recognised Covaxin as a valid vaccine for travellers. The vaccine has also found itself in the approved list of CoVID-19 vaccines for travel to Sri Lanka, Iran, Mexico, Greece, Philippines, Nepal, Estonia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.
The emergency use listing would also allow Bharat Biotech to ship the vaccine to countries that rely on WHO guidance for their regulatory decisions. With the validation, countries can now expedite their regulatory approval processes to import and administer Covaxin.
It also allows procurement by global bodies like United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the GAVI COVAX facility for distribution to countries in need.
Shortly ahead of the WHO approval, the shelf life of Covaxin was extended for up to 12 months. The vaccine initially had a shelf life of six months when it first received emergency use approval in the country.
Covaxin is the seventh to win WHO backing following two mRNA shots by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, adenovirus vector vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and China’s inactivated vaccines from Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm.
The vaccine has shown 77.8 per cent effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 and 65.2 per cent protection against the new Delta variant. In June, the company said it concluded the final analysis of Covaxin efficacy from Phase 3 trials.
Covaxin and AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s Covishield are the two widely used vaccines in India.
With inputs from Reuters.