The World Health Organization on Monday said that it was holding discussions with India about the country joining the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access or COVAX Facility – a global effort to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines. The global health body added that India had “extensive experience” with vaccines.

“India is certainly eligible, like all countries in the world, to be part of the COVAX facility and discussions are going on in that regard,” WHO Senior Advisor Bruce Aylward said during a press briefing. “We will welcome India’s full participation as a member of COVAX. India has extensive experience with vaccines.”

India is now the second-worst coronavirus-hit country in the world. The country has reported 42,80,422 lakh cases and 72,775 deaths so far.

More than 170 countries are engaged in discussions to participate in the COVAX Facility, which is focused on speeding up the development of a drug against the disease, ensuring doses for all countries and distributing the vaccines to high-risk groups. The effort is being led by WHO and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance.

The United States, the country worst-hit by the coronavirus crisis, had said last week that it would not join the global collective, partly due to the WHO’s involvement in the process. “The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organisations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” the White House had said.

Russia rolls out first batch of vaccines for public use

Russia rolled out the first batch of its “Sputnik V” vaccine against the coronavirus for public use on Tuesday, TASS reported.

“The first batch of the vaccine for preventing the novel coronavirus infection, Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V) developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Health Ministry passed the required quality tests in the laboratories of Roszdravnadzor (the Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare) and was produced for civilian circulation,” the news agency quoted the country’s health ministry as saying.

The health ministry added: “In the near future the supplies of the first batches of the vaccine to the regions are expected.”

The vaccine was found to produce an antibody response in all participants in early-stage trials, according to results published in medical journal The Lancet on Friday.

Russia, which on August 11 announced that it has developed the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, has faced criticism from scientists and experts for not conducting Phase 3 trials to determine its safety. A vaccine is deemed safe to be commercially available only after Phase 3 – a much larger efficacy trial involving thousands of participants. The advanced trial for the vaccine began on August 26. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin had invited residents to join the study.

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