Four Covid-19 vaccines in use in India require two doses, but the latest to be approved is a vaccine by Johnson & Johnson which requires administration of just one dose. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Saturday announced this in a tweet: "India expands its vaccine basket! Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine is given approval for Emergency use in India (EUA)."
"Now India has 5 EUA vaccines. This will further boost our nation's collective fight against Covid-19," he added.
Johnson & Johnson India spokesperson also announced: "We are pleased to announce that on 7th August 2021, the Government of India issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson COVID19 single-dose vaccine in India, to prevent COVID in individuals 18 years of age and older."
There is, however, no clarity on how soon this new vaccine will be available or will it be placed in the open market unlike the present arrangement of supply to only the Centre and the hospitals.
The four vaccines being administered so far in India, which require two doses after a gap, are: Covishield, an Oxford-Astrazeneca formulation, of Serum Institute of India, Pune; Covaxin of Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad; Russian Sputnik V Gamaleya; and Moderna's mRNA-1273.
Covishield's two doses are prescribed to be taken with a gap of 12 to 16 weeks, unlike others within a window of 28 days. The government is considering narrowing down the gap between its two doses for those 45 and plus in view of an increased availability of the vaccine and mounting criticism that it was also 28 days for Covishield but the longer gap was stipulated to overcome the supply constraints without much scientific evidence backing it.
The reduction in the gap has to be, however, cleared by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) in its meeting slated next week when it may also consider mixing the vaccines for better immunisation.
Covishield and Sputnik V are non-replicating viral vector vaccines while Covaxin was produced from the inactivated virus. Covishield is now approved in 45 countries whereas Sputnik V is approved in 70 countries, Moderna's mRNA-1273 in 65 countries and Covaxin, a completely Indian formulation, in nine countries. Some countries are refusing the entry of Indians producing the Covaxin vaccination.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)