India announced Sunday that it’s granted emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and a locally produced one from Bharat Biotech.
Why it matters: These are the first vaccines granted emergency approval in the country of over 1.3 billion, which has the second largest virus outbreak after the U.S. Indian officials plan to start a huge immunization drive within a week.
Of note: Bharat Biotch’s Covaxin vaccine is still in stage 3 clinical trials in India and the final results are yet to be released.
- But the Drugs Controller General of India said in a statement, “The Phase III efficacy trial was initiated in India in 25,800 volunteers and [to] date, 22,500 participants have been vaccinated across the country and the vaccine has been found to be safe as per the data available.”
- India is the second country to approve the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after the U.K. approved it this week. News that this would be approved broke Friday but it wasn’t confirmed until Sunday.
By the numbers: India has more than 10.3 million confirmed cases and over 149,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins University data.
The big picture: Adults older than 50, people with pre-existing conditions, medical and frontline workers will be the first to get the vaccine, according to NPR.
- India conducted mock vaccinations on Saturday across the country to prepare for vaccine distribution.
For the record: Although AstraZeneca’s vaccine is cheaper and easier to use than others, research published in December confirmed the vaccine was about 62% effective.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the Indian regulator’s announcement.