COVID-19: How will India vaccinate nearly one billion people?

India prepares to embark on its biggest ever immunisation drive after the drug regulator approved the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday gave the green light to two vaccines, one developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca with Oxford University, and another by local pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech.

The Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, called Covaxin, was granted a conditional nod despite a lack of a critical phase-three trial, raising concerns about its efficacy.

Covaxin is being developed indigenously in collaboration with the government research body, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), as part of the government’s push for “atmanirbhar” or self-reliance.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be produced by its Indian partner, the Serum Institute of India (SII) – the world’s largest vaccine maker – under the name, Covishield.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media to declare that the development made “every Indian proud that the two vaccines” are made in India.

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