New Delhi (AFP)
India gave emergency approval for Johnson and Johnson’s single-injection coronavirus vaccine on Saturday to speed up its vaccination campaign amid growing fears of a new wave of infections.
Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the approval would bolster the fight against the pandemic in India, where at least 200,000 people died in a brutal two-month surge through mid-June.
“India is expanding its vaccine basket! Johnson and Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine is approved for emergency use in India, ”the minister said on Twitter.
No indication has been given as to when the US company’s doses will reach India.
The nation of 1.3 billion people has administered 500 million doses of the vaccine so far, but just eight percent of the population has received two injections.
Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is the fifth to be approved after Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, the house-developed Covaxin, Russia’s Sputnik V and the US-made Moderna jab.
India remains the second most affected country after the United States, with more than 32 million confirmed cases and 427,000 deaths. Due to the underreporting, experts say the real toll is much higher.
They also warn that the slow pace of vaccination puts India at risk of any new infection crisis. The number of new cases and deaths has started to rise again in the past two weeks.
The government’s free vaccination campaign relies heavily on Covishield and Covaxin and producers are struggling to keep up with demand.
Sputnik has yet to ramp up production, and Moderna has yet to import plans.
© 2021 AFP