Dec 7, 2020 - Health

India's Serum Institute seeks emergency use nod for AstraZeneca vaccine

A healthcare worker in full PPE administers a COVID swab test

A healthcare worker administers a coronavirus swab test on Dec. 6 in Mumbai, India. Photo: Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is reviewing the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca for emergency use, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: India is home to the Serum Institute, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world by volume. The country has also reported the most coronavirus cases outside the U.S., and the third-most COVID fatalities globally, per Johns Hopkins University data.

  • Daily coronavirus cases in India have gradually declined since September, but the country is still seeing several hundred deaths per day.

Driving the news: Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted on Monday that the company had applied for an emergency use authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Poonawalla also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support.

  • Pfizer applied for authorization from the Drugs Controller General of India late last week, the Times of India reports

Context: AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said last month that the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure the efficacy of its COVID vaccine, after a smaller dose received by some participants in its last trial was found to be the result of an error by a contractor.

  • Top scientists at the World Health Organization have called for more detailed information on AstraZeneca's vaccine. The company says the vaccine is 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.
  • The U.K. government approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine last week, after the company said the vaccine is 95% effective and has no serious side effects.
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