The Government of India on Tuesday granted permission for emergency use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines and is in talks with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson as it seeks to step up the vaccination drive after a devastating second wave of the pandemic.
The Drug Controller General of India approved the application of pharma major Cipla to import “ready to inject” Moderna vaccines, making it the fourth Covid-19 jab to be available in the country after Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V.
“Our vaccine basket is now richer with this addition,” V K Paul, member (health) Niti Ayog told reporters.
He said Moderna's vaccine has received the regulatory approval and other formalities will have to be followed before Cipla starts importing the doses for administering to beneficiaries as part of the vaccination drive.
“This new permission for restricted emergency use potentially opens up a clear possibility of this vaccine being imported to India in the near future,” Paul said adding that the government is also in talks with Pfizer and J&J to introduce their vaccines in the country.
According to a PTI report, Moderna had informed India's drug regulator that the US administration planned to donate a certain number of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine through COVAX to India and sought approval for emergency use authorisation.
India had recently relaxed rules for allowing use of Covid-19 vaccines in the country if they are approved by one of the four regulators in the US, the UK, European Union or Japan.
By approving Moderna's vaccine, India also opened the doors for the first mRNA vaccine for use in the country. Among the available vaccines, Covaxin uses an inactivated virus, while Covishield and Sputnik V use viral vectors to deliver genetic code for the antigen.
The Moderna vaccines would have to be stored at temperatures between minus 25 and minus 15 degree Celsius for long term storage upto seven months. In the short term, an unopened vaccine vial can be stored between 2-8 degree Celsius for upto 30 days.
India had administered more than 33 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines as on Tuesday and hopes to complete the vaccination drive by December this year.