India Will Import Covid-19 Vaccine After Experiencing a Spike in Corona Cases

UMMATIMES - India on Tuesday said it would accelerate emergency approvals for the Covid-19 vaccine endorsed by Western countries and Japan, paving the way for possible imports of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines.

The move, which will free companies from conducting local safety tests for their vaccines, comes after India experienced the world's largest spike in cases in the country this month.

Since April 2, India has reported the highest daily number of infections. India reported 161,736 cases as of Tuesday, bringing the total to 13.7 million, while deaths rose by 879 to 171,058.

On Tuesday, Maharashtra state, which accounts for about a quarter of India's national cases, said it would impose strict restrictions from Wednesday to try to contain the spread.

The health ministry said vaccines endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or authorities in the United States, Europe, Britain and Japan could be granted emergency use approval in India.

"If one of these regulators has approved a vaccine, it is now ready to be shipped to India to be used, produced and packaged," said Vinod Kumar Paul, a senior government health official, reported Reuters.

"We hope and we invite vaccine makers like Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and others ... to be ready to come to India as early as possible."

India has the largest global vaccine production capacity and exported tens of millions of doses before its own demand spiked and caused shortages in several states.

Dozens of poor countries rely on Indian exports for their vaccination programs.

Meanwhile, Pfizer said it would seek to bring its vaccine to India after withdrawing its emergency use proposal in February.

The US federal health agency recommended on Tuesday to stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

India has provided more than 108 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, sold more than 54.6 million doses of the vaccine abroad and delivered more than 10 million to partner countries.

India currently uses the AstraZeneca vaccine and the domestically made Covid-19 vaccine COVISHIELD for its domestic vaccination program, and this week approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.