The Centre on Tuesday announced that India’s drug regulator has granted permission to import Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use, reported PTI.

“An application was received from Moderna through their Indian partner Cipla, following which Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has been granted restricted emergency use authorisation by the drug regulator,” NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul said at a press briefing. “This new permission for restricted emergency use potentially opens up a clear possibility of this vaccine being imported to India in the near future.”

This is the fourth vaccine to be granted permission for emergency use in India after Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V.

Paul said that the Union government will continue to approve foreign-made vaccines by companies such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for emergency use. “We are also looking at increasing the production of availability of vaccines that are being manufactured in our country,” Paul added.

Mumbai-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla had applied for permission to import the vaccine before the Drugs Controller General of India on Monday. In a separate communication, Moderna had said that the United States government has agreed to donate a certain number of its vaccine doses through COVAX to India for use.

Earlier in April, the government had fast-tracked emergency approvals for foreign-produced vaccines that have been cleared by other countries.

On May 27, the Centre had said that it was in talks with manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna since “mid-2020” and has offered them all assistance for supply and manufacture of their shots in India. The Centre’s statement came amid criticism from various entities that the government was delaying the process of granting authorisation to foreign-made vaccines and procuring them for use in India.

Moderna had said in November that its vaccine has proven to be 94.5% effective against the coronavirus during its phase three trials.

Meanwhile, India reported 37,566 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the total number of infections since the outbreak of the pandemic in January 2020 to 3,03,16,897. This is the lowest single-day rise in cases since March 18, when the tally rose by 35,871.

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