The World Health Organisation (WHO) has delayed the emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covaxin, the Covid vaccine developed in India, once again. The global body has sent more technical questions to its manufacturer Bharat Biotech. This delay is likely to have a negative impact on Indians’ international travel plans, particularly those of students, as most countries around the world will not accept Covaxin as a vaccine if EUA is not present.
WHO’s inquiries for Bharat Biotech come despite the fact that Covaxin has submitted all necessary data for clearance. The delay also comes just days after the Union Health Ministry expressed confidence that the global body would likely give its approval soon. Earlier this month, Dr. V.K Paul, Chairperson of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, said that WHO approval for Covaxin was likely by the end of this month.
According to Bharat Biotech, Phase III clinical trials of Covaxin revealed a 77.8 percent efficacy rate. Covaxin, along with Covishield, was the first vaccine used by India in its massive nationwide inoculation campaign against COVID-19, which began in January of this year. Others, such as the Russian-made Sputnik, were only added later to the country’s vaccine program. Covishield is the only vaccine made in India that is currently on the WHO list. It is produced in Pune by the Serum institute of India and was developed by Oxford University researchers and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
The delay also makes one question what are the Indian scientists at WHO doing and how long would Indians, who have been vaccinated with Covaxin, have to wait to travel again.