It is the first anti-Covid-19 vaccine fully developed in India and the eighth to receive the precious sesame. The World Health Organization (WHO) granted emergency approval for Covaxin on Wednesday, November 3. This vaccine – 78% effective – is recommended for all age groups from 18 years.
It requires two doses four weeks apart, but is found to be “Particularly well suited to low and middle income countries because of the ease with which it can be stored”, according to a WHO press release. It is the first vaccine entirely developed and manufactured in India to receive approval from the UN organization.
It joins the anti-Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca (WHO has two AZ vaccines, one of which is made in India), Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm and Sinovac on the list.
The announcement comes as the official threshold of five million deaths from Covid-19 has just been crossed. The real toll of the disease, detected at the end of 2019 in China before becoming the worst pandemic in a hundred years, could, in the opinion of the WHO, be two or three times higher.
Can be used by the Covax system
The Covaxin vaccine, or BBV152, is an inactivated virus vaccine, a relatively classic technology but with a new adjuvant that makes it more effective, according to the manufacturer. It is this adjuvant that distinguishes it from the two other inactivated virus vaccines already authorized by the WHO, those from the Chinese laboratories Sinovac and Sinopharm.
Storage is simpler than for messenger RNA vaccines like those from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech, which have been shown to be the most effective of all the sera approved so far but still need to be transported and stored. at ultra-low temperature.
WHO approval facilitates international recognition of the vaccine, especially for UN agencies and the Covax system – set up to facilitate access to Covid-19 immunization in the poorest countries -, and to make use of it.
“The WHO approval is a significant step towards global access to Covaxin which is safe, effective and already widely used in India”, underlined Dr Krishna Ella, CEO of Bharat Biotech. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also rejoiced in a tweet. He considers that the homologation “Will make travel easier for many Indian citizens and it contributes to vaccine equity”.
Vaccine inequity – the richest countries have reserved the bulk of the vaccine doses available – is a problem denounced relentlessly by the WHO, as by the countries which are victims of it. The organization recently pointed out that, “So far, only 0.4% of tests and 0.5% of vaccines injected globally have been used in low-income countries, despite the fact that these countries account for 9% of the world’s population”.
“This emergency approval increases the availability of vaccines, the most effective medical means to put an end to the pandemic”, underlined Dr Mariangela Simao, in charge of access to medicines at the WHO.
Increase the production rate
According to Bharat Biotech, production capacity was 50 to 55 million doses per month in October and the company expects to reach an annual production capacity of one billion doses by the end of 2021. Technology transfers “Are also going to companies in India, the United States and other countries”, published Bharat Biotech.
After the United States and Brazil, India is the country most affected by the pandemic, with 459,191 dead and 34,308,140 cases, according to the daily official reports of each country.
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WHO authorizes eighth vaccine, developed in India, against Covid-19