India approves its first intranasal Covid-19 vaccine

The vaccine will have restricted use in emergency situations.

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of Bharat Biotech's Covid-19 Covaxin vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi. Reuters
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India has approved its first intranasal vaccine against Covid-19 infection, a step seen as a “big boost” in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday announced that the intranasal vaccine designed by Bharat Biotech had received government approval for primary immunisation against the disease in adults aged over 18, for restricted use in emergency situations.

“This step will further strengthen our collective fight against the pandemic. India has harnessed its science, R&D and human resources in the fight against Covid-19 under Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Mr Mandaviya said on Twitter.

He also expressed hope that the science-driven approach would help defeat the pandemic that has claimed over 528,000 lives and infected more than 44 million people in the country since it broke out in 2020.

The Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech International Limited had last month completed controlled clinical Phase III and booster dose trials for its intranasal Covid-19 vaccine.

It conducted two separate trials for the intranasal vaccine, one as a primary dose schedule and another as a booster dose, for subjects who had been double vaccinated with the two commonly administered Covid-19 vaccines in India.

It submitted the trial data to the national drug regulatory authority, the Drugs Controller General of India.

India started its ambitious vaccination drive in January last year after giving emergency approval to indigenously produced Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and later approved Russia’s Sputnik V.

The South Asian nation has so far vaccinated over 2.13 billion, including giving 40 million doses to children aged 12-14.

Covid cases are ebbing. with nearly 6,000 cases and 16 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours.

But the government is aggressively pushing the vaccination drive and running special booster doses and free door-to-door vaccination campaigns to improve vaccine access for its huge population in remote corners of the country.

Updated: September 06, 2022, 12:04 PM