India will fast-track emergency use authorization for Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted approval in the US, Europe, UK and Japan or have have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, the Indian Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced Tuesday.
The goal of this move is to "augment our basket of Covid-19 vaccines," he said in a tweet, adding that the decision was made based on the recommendations of India's expert group on vaccine administration NEGVAC.
This comes as India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, is witnessing a record surge in Covid-19 cases despite rolling out one of the fastest vaccination drives in the world.
India's total caseload stands at more than 13.6 million — second only to the US — including more than 171,000 fatalities. Vaccinations topped 100 million, with India being the fastest country globally to reach that milestone, reaching the figure in just 85 days, the health ministry said.
India's drug regulator has also approved the Russian-made coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V.
In announcing the latest vaccine plans, Dr. Harsh Vardhan also said that government plans to assess the first 100 beneficiaries of such foreign vaccines for seven days for safety outcomes before it is further rolled out within the country. However, it'll be mandatory to conduct post-approval parallel bridging clinical trial as per prescribed provisions.