NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said the drug regulator's approval of two coronavirus vaccines for emergency use was a watershed moment in the country's battle against the deadly virus.
Eleven months after the first case of deadly coronavirus was detected in India, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) V.G. Somani on Sunday approved Serum Institute of India's 'Covishield' vaccine and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' for emergency use, paving the way for its roll-out and administration to millions.
"A watershed moment in India's famed battle against COVID19 under the charismatic leadership of Hon'ble PM NarendraModiJi," Vardhan wrote in a series of tweets, adding that these vaccines are a fitting tribute to the corona warriors.
The Union Minister further said, "It's now time to reap the benefits of the robust supply chain infrastructure we've put in place for quick and equitable distribution of the vaccine."
He also urged the citizens to entrust the stringent protocols followed for ensuring safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of the approved vaccines. He had earlier asked people not to believe in rumours against the vaccine. K. Vijayaraghavan, the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Union government said that the vaccination will begin soon.
"Vaccination will begin soon. This is a result of focused work by scientists, national laboratories, government agencies, regulators, health care workers, and most importantly, all our people who have waited patiently following all COVID appropriate behaviour," he said.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India (SII) also said the Covishield, India's first COVID-19 vaccine will roll out in the coming weeks. Poonawalla said SII risks on stockpiling the vaccine have paid off.
Covishield and Covaxin vaccines have to be administered in two doses and can be stored at 2-8 degree Celsius. This is a major relief for India which has the second highest number of infections in the world after the US. The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive in the next six to eight months.
The vaccine will be first offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities. On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had announced that one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline workers will get the vaccine for free. (IANS)