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As WHO Approves India's Covaxin Covid-19 Vaccine, Here's What It Means

In a massive development for India, World Health Organisation has granted emergency use listing (EUL) to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.


Image: AP/PTI

In a massive development for India, World Health Organisation on Wednesday granted emergency use listing (EUL) status to Bharat Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin. The global public health body's Technical Advisory Group (WHO) convened that the vaccine meets WHO's standards for protection against COVID-19. 

Covaxin was also reviewed by WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and recommended the use of the vaccine in two doses, with a dose interval of 28 days or four weeks in all age groups 18 and above.

What would be the impact of WHO's approval for Covaxin in India?

  • WHO's EUL procedure is a risk-based procedure for evaluating and listing unlicensed COVID-19 vaccines, therapies and in vitro diagnostics with the goal of facilitating the availability of these products to people affected by public health emergency. 
  • The WHO approval for Covaxin would facilitate international travel for those double jabbed with it to countries where a vaccination certificate for WHO-approved vaccines is mandatory.
  • In countries accepting WHO-approved vaccine, Indians inoculated with Covaxin will not have to take RT-PCR tests or undergo quarantine.
  • Earlier, Indians, inoculated with Covaxin, travelling abroad had to undergo quarantine on arrival or take the COVID-19 test.
  • The WHO EUL approval allows countries to advance their own regular approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines. It should be noted that there is no link between EUL and exports. 
  • The EUL also assures the recipient of the vaccine that it is of global standard.
  • It is a prerequisite for rolling out vaccines globally through the COVAX programme. COVAX is an initiative by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, that aims to provide equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine to every country.

In phase 3 trials, Covaxin has shown 77.8% effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 and 65.2% against the new Delta variant. Recently, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on Covid-19 also granted emergency use approval to Covaxin.

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