The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday dismissed reports claiming that the government has rejected drug manufacturers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s proposals for emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine in the country.
Reports claimed that the vaccines developed by both the companies have not been cleared due to inadequate safety and efficacy data. Citing sources, television channels reported that the decision was taken in the meeting of the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation on Wednesday.
“The media report about the rejection of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s emergency use authorisation of vaccine is fake,” the health ministry said, minutes after the reports were out.
On Monday, Serum Institute Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla announced that his firm has applied for emergency use authorisation of its vaccine. The Pune-based company has tied up with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce the potential vaccine in India.
After this, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had sought emergency use authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India. Their vaccine is being developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research, and is undergoing phase 3 trials in over 25 centres across India.
Reports, citing sources, said pharmaceutical company Pfizer has also applied for emergency use authorisation in India after it received clearance in Britain and Bahrain. On Tuesday, Britain’s National Health Service started vaccinating its oldest citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech shots, making it the first clinically authorised, fully tested immunisation effort in the world.
India has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said at an all-party meeting last week that experts believe a coronavirus vaccine could be available in India in the next few weeks.