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Indian-produced covaxin Covid-19 vaccine gets thumbs up from WHO

The first coronavirus vaccine developed by India - one that has been in use there for months - got a seal of approval from the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

The first coronavirus vaccine developed by India – one that has been in use there for months – got a seal of approval from the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

The emergency approval means covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech, joins six others that have received the thumbs-up from the WHO. Those are the vaccines from: AstraZeneca, BioNTech/Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

Tests are still under way on at least one of the drugs designed to stop or slow the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19 – Sputnik V from Russia.

WHO approval is irrelevant for countries and regions that have their own medical regulators, like the EU and US, which can run their own tests and make decisions about safety of use.

But many countries that cannot afford a comprehensive regulator rely on WHO pronouncements to shape their health care policies. The approval also clears the way for UN agencies to purchase and distribute the medicines.

The WHO also urges all countries using emergency-approved vaccines to allow entry to visitors who have also been vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine.

UN inspectors said they had decided that covaxin’s usefulness far outweighed any potential side effects of using it. It has an effectiveness rate of about 78 per cent, as opposed to the 90-per-cent rate enjoyed by the BioNTech/Pfizer jab.

Covaxin is made from an inactivated form of the virus and requires two doses before a person can be considered fully vaccinated.

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