'Happy new year': Risk we took with stockpiling Covishield finally paid off, says Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla on Sunday said that his company took a huge risk by stockpiling the Covishield vaccine even before it was approved.

His statement came as India's drugs regulator approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

"Happy new year, everyone! All the risks @SerumInstIndia took with stockpiling the vaccine, have finally paid off. COVISHIELD, India's first COVID-19 vaccine is approved, safe, effective and ready to roll-out in the coming weeks," Poonawalla said in a tweet.

The approval by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) was given on the basis of recommendations submitted by a COVID-19 subject expert committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

"After adequate examination, CDSCO has decided to accept the recommendations of the Expert Committee and accordingly, vaccines of M/s Serum and M/s Bharat Biotech are being approved for restricted use in emergency situation," DCGI Dr V G Somani told a press conference here.

This paves the way for the roll out of at least two vaccines in India in the coming days.

The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has tied up with AstraZeneca to manufacture Covishield.

Covaxin has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The authority also granted Cadila Healthcare the permission to conduct the Phase III clinical trial of its vaccine candidate in India, Somani said.

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