Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday confirmed that the Covishield vaccine was approved for use and said that India was probably the only country where four different vaccines were being made ready, reported ANI. The Covishield vaccine is jointly developed by the Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“India is perhaps the only country where four vaccines are getting ready,” Javadekar said. “Serum’s Covishield was yesterday approved for emergency use.”

It is the first Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use in India. Javadekar said that at least three more vaccines – Bharat Biotch’s Covaxin, Zydus Cadil’s ZyCoV-D and Russia’s Sputnik-V – were waiting to be approved, reported DNA.

India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization is expected to announce other details about the vaccine later. The vaccine, being produced by the Serum Insitute, is given in two full-dose regime about 28 days apart. The Oxford University had on December 18 said that its vaccine candidate has a better immune response when given in a two full-dose regime rather than a full-dose followed by a half-dose booster.

Earlier in the month, data from later phase 3 trials revealed that the Oxford vaccine candidate showed 90% efficacy in a small group who got a half-dose first, but only 62% among them were given two full doses. The overall vaccine efficacy across both groups was 70.4%.

Experts, however, had expressed caution, saying that while the vaccine was safe and effective, AstraZeneca and Oxford University would have to do more work to achieve 90% efficacy as some other vaccine candidates have shown. In contrast, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both have efficacies above 90%.

Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla had on December 28 said they have already stockpiled made 40 million to 50 million doses of the vaccine.

India has so far reported 1,03,05,788 Covid-19 cases and 1,49,218 deaths.