Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 31
The New Year is all set to herald new beginning with the Indian drug regulator on Thursday indicating an early approval for Covid-19 vaccines. A crucial meeting to consider clearance for candidates of the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech is scheduled for Friday.
5 more infected with mutant virus
Five more UK returnees have tested positive for the new variant genome of SARS-CoV-2, taking the total number of mutant-infected flyers to 25, the Union Health Ministry said. “All are in physical isolation,” it said.
“We will probably have a happy New Year with something in hand,” VG Somani, Drug Controller General of India said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hinted at quick possibility of vaccines on a day when the government announced a pan-India dry run in all states on January 2 to test rollout preparedness.
Recovery highest at 96 %
India’s recovery rate on Thursday touched 96.04 per cent with 98,60,280 recoveries of the total 1,02,66,674 confirmed cases. There were 21,822 cases and 26,139 recoveries in the past 24 hours.
“Preparations are in final stages to take the indigenous vaccine to every nook and corner of the country. Just like 2020 was about preventing infections, 2021 will be about India making the largest vaccination drive successful,” PM Modi said during the virtual foundation stone-laying ceremony for AIIMS-Rajkot.
The national drug regulator, meanwhile, clarified that the clearance of a vaccine by one country did not automatically qualify it for another. The UK had yesterday approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We have our own rigorous scrutiny and won’t compromise on safety and efficacy,” Somani said. About the UK mutant strain’s impact on vaccine efficacy, Somani said: “We may not have to repeat the entire process. We could cut it short with few additional chemical studies. The matter would need wider deliberations.” “Minor mutations will not impact the vaccines. But if these mutations keep accumulating, there may be a slightly different story. That won’t happen unless many vaccines are rolled out together and there is vaccine-induced pressure on the virus,” says leading virologist Shahid Jameel.