India’s drug regulators gave the country a gift on New Year’s Day: a vaccine against the coronavirus.
An Indian minister confirmed reports that an expert panel had authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use in India on Friday, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to be authorized in India.
“Last year began with corona, but this year is beginning with a vaccine,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters Saturday.
The authorization was long-awaited in India, which has the second-largest infection load in the world after the United States. India has more than 10 million reported coronavirus infections and nearly 150,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University — the third-highest after the U.S. and Brazil.
India’s announcement comes days after the United Kingdom gave the vaccine the go-ahead.