WHO likely to grant EUL to Covaxin by Sept: Jaishankar

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 13, 2021

‘My priority is to ensure Indians are able to travel with least restrictions’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) may decide on giving an emergency authorisation for Covaxin in September, said S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs.

The Foreign Minister’s statement at the CII Annual Meeting came on the same day WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan met Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to discuss the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for Covaxin.

EUL is a WHO procedure to streamline the process by which new or unlicensed products can be quickly adopted by multiple countries during public health emergencies. “Typically WHO takes two months...Covaxin filed its application on July 9. So, I am hopeful sometime in September we could get some kind of indication,” said Jaishankar.

Earlier, reports from Geneva quoted Mariangela Simao, a WHO Assistant Director General for vaccines, as saying that their assessment of Covaxin was “quite advanced” and that a decision was expected possibly by mid-September.

The Minister further said that India had taken up bilaterally the issue of exempting quarantine for those travellers who had taken certain vaccines.

This exemption had excluded Serum Institute’s Covshield. India got the vaccine accepted by a number of countries in Europe through bilateral discussions, he said. “Covaxin is still a problem. I completely understand it. I am hopeful once WHO gives its approval for Covaxin (it will get sorted),” the Minister stated.

Pointing out that regulators worldwide recognised only a limited number of vaccines, Jaishankar said that there was a need for some kind of understanding on vaccination certificates and not vaccines. He said there was a precedence for this, and cited the example of how yellow fever vaccination certificates were accepted for travel without any other specific requirements.

“It is my priority to ensure Indians are able to travel with the least restrictions...,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mandaviya, after his meeting with Dr Swaminathan, tweeted: “Held a meeting with Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Cheif Scientist of @WHO. We had a productive discussion on WHO’s approval of @BharatBiotech’s Covaxin. @DoctorSoumya also appreciated India’s efforts for the containment of #COVD19.”

‘Efficacy quite high’

About a month back, Dr Swaminathan had said that the overall efficacy of Covaxin is quite high and that the Phase 3 trials of the vaccine look good. “The overall efficacy is quite high. The vaccine efficacy against the Delta variant is low, but it is still quite good,” the scientist was quoted as saying. She had concurred that Covaxin’s safety profile so far met the WHO benchmarks.

Published on August 12, 2021

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