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India’s Serum Institute seeks emergency use nod for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate

BENGALURU — Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer by volume, has sought emergency use authorization in the country for AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, its chief executive officer said on Monday.

The experimental vaccine can be stored at two to eight degrees Celsius and can be distributed more easily in India, which has the world’s second-highest number of infections.

Serum’s move comes close on the heels of Pfizer, Inc. applying for a similar authorization of its coronavirus vaccine candidate on Saturday.

CEO Adar Poonawala tweeted on Monday that the move “will save countless lives,” but did not give any other details.

Earlier in the day, media reports, citing domestic agency Press Trust of India (PTI), had said Serum applied to the Drugs Controller General of India, citing unmet medical needs due to the pandemic and in the interest of the public at large.

The company’s application stated that data from four clinical studies, two in the UK and one each in Brazil and India, showed that the vaccine, Covishield, was highly effective against severe COVID-19 infections, the PTI report said.

Over the weekend, a top Indian government health adviser said in a TV interview that Pfizer has applied for an emergency use authorization, making it the first to do so in the country.

“We remain committed to engaging with the Government of India and explore opportunities to make this vaccine available for use in the country,” a Pfizer spokeswoman told Reuters. — Reuters

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