WHO has recognised several vaccines from the makers like Oxford AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna which enables the vaccine makers to export the doses worldwide.
India is interested in ensuring that Covaxin of Bharat Biotech gets the endorsement from the World Health Organisation without delay. Sources informed that top diplomats of the Ministry of External Affairs are studying the matter to ensure recognition from WHO and EU for the indigenous vaccine which is one of the doses chosen by the Government of India.
Ministry sources however did not confirm that Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will meet officials of Bharat Biotech on Monday but emphasised that they are focused on ensuring “clearance” from WHO for Covaxin. “There is certainly an interest in getting Covaxin on WHO’s Emergency Use List,” said an official familiar with the matter.
WHO has recognised several vaccines from the makers like Oxford AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna which enables the vaccine makers to export the doses worldwide. That apart, recipients of the vaccines are also enabled to carry out international air travel. Covaxin has been delivered to a large number of Indian citizens and is expected to be delivered to a greater number of Indian citizens in the coming days. WHO has also cleared China’s Sinopharm vaccine that China has been exporting to various countries across the world.
But without the necessary WHO endorsement, the Indian vaccine’s recipients may not be considered for air travel abroad. The source also informed that a separate process to get endorsement from the European Union “may take longer” but that is also on the cards.
The double recognition will help scientific research and collaboration between the Indian and foreign vaccine producers as well as help citizens to travel smoothly. Bharat Biotech, maker of Covaxin has signed agreements with pharmaceutical companies from Brazil and the U.S. where the vaccine will be either co-produced or exported but the absence of endorsement from WHO and other multilateral bodies is creating difficulties for the vaccine.
India has used both Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield for vaccine diplomacy. Covishield based on Oxford AstraZeneca has been the chosen one as it was one of the earliest to get global recognition because of its proven efficacy to fight the COVID-19 virus. Clinical trials have proved that Covaxin too has efficacy to deal with the original COVID-19 and the mutant variants and the Indian diplomats are expected to take up these arguments when engaging international partners at WHO and EU.
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