India is embarking on one of the world's most ambitious mass immunization programs ever undertaken, after regulators approved the country's first two Covid-19 vaccines for restricted emergency use.
Indian drug regulators on Sunday gave the go ahead for two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and the other conceived locally by Bharat Biotech and a government-run institute.
Both vaccines will be administered in two doses and stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit).
The approval is a crucial step in India's effort to contain its coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 10 million people, trailing only the United States in total caseload.
The country of 1.35 billion is planning to inoculate 300 million frontline workers, elderly and vulnerable people by August, and preparations have been months in the making.
The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine maker, is producing the AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine locally, having taken on a huge risk to manufacture the vaccine months before approval from regulators.
But the vaccines, locally branded Covishield, won't be available to other countries until March or April, as the Indian government has restricted them for export.
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