David Prior, Chair of UK's National Health Service, has said the country could approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine within a few days. This development is significant since Britain gave emergency approval to the vaccine developed by US-based Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech last week.
"Our hopes are pinned on the vaccine. We are hoping it will be approved within a matter of days," Prior said at the FICCI's annual general meeting on Saturday.
He said there's been a silver lining in pandemic, which has paved the way for whole new fields of R&D. While Covid-19 pandemic showed how unprepared the world is to deal with the pandemic of this scale, it also led to extraordinary research and innovation, he said. He said it was the job of the regulatory authorities to ensure all vaccines meet the standards set for efficacy and safety. "We must win public confidence in the efficacy and safety of the vaccine," he said.
He also called for more personalised healthcare, adding that digitisation could play a major role in ensuring healthcare undergoes fundamental change.
Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, has also said that it is likely to get approval for emergency use in India soon after the UK drug regulator gives the green signal to Covishield.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is currently evaluating the best dosage regimen for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. An official said the regulatory approval in the UK is crucial to strengthen SII's application seeking emergency use authorisation in India because the proposal here refers to trials being conducted in the UK and Brazil.
Britain had started rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday last week, thereby becoming the first Western country to start vaccinating its general population in what was hailed as a decisive watershed in defeating the coronavirus.
The mass inoculation will fuel hope that the world may be turning a corner in the fight against a pandemic that has crushed economies and killed more than 1.5 million, although ultra-cold storage and tricky logistics will limit its use for now.