The Indian government is considering an “emergency authorization” of Covid-19 vaccines, the country’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said Sunday.
Vardhan said that while Phase 3 trials are usually six to nine months long, an emergency authorization could cut that time period.
“Any emergency authorization is always done by adopting re-enforced safeguards so that people need not worry about safety,” he said.
At present, the Covid-19 vaccines that are at the most advanced stage in clinical trials in India include Covaxin, which is being developed domestically, and vaccines that the Serum Institute of India is collaborating on with Astra Zeneca, Oxford University and Codagenix USA.
Vardhan said the results of these vaccine trials will be available by the first quarter of 2021, and there will be efforts to ensure that the vaccines can be manufactured in parallel “so that we don’t lose precious time (in) providing vaccines to the population.”
Senior citizens and those working in high-risk professions, such as healthcare workers, will be given priority in getting the vaccination, the minister said.
“No corners will be cut in the clinical trials, and vaccines will be made available only when the government can ensure its safety and efficacy,” Vardhan added.
India reported 92,071 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total to more than 4.8 million. There were also another 1,136 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 79,722.