India has approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, paving the way for a huge immunisation campaign in the world’s second most populous country.
The Indian information and broadcasting minister, Prakash Javadekar, said on Saturday that the vaccine had been given the green light on Friday.
It is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use by India, which has the highest number of infections after the US.
The decision came on the same day as a nationwide drill for vaccine delivery, in which health workers received dummy vaccines at each of the centres to be used across the country.
The health minister, Harsh Vardhan, said the exercise would help build expertise “so that the upcoming vaccination drive may proceed without any glitch”. He has also called for a campaign to counter “misleading rumours” that may put people off getting the vaccine.
Javadekar said at least three more vaccines were waiting to be approved – the local company Bharat Biotch’s Covaxin, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Russia’s Sputnik-V.