Covid-19 vaccine update: Pan-India dry run on Saturday, WHO approves Pfizer’s candidate

It’s been almost a month since several countries started vaccinations against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. While the United Kingdom was the first country anywhere to approve a Covid-19 vaccine and begin immunisation drive, several others have joined the list since then. Most countries have approved vaccines of Pfizer Inc-BioNTech SE or Moderna, while some are using both. The Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, too, has received approval, with the UK being the first country to give a nod, followed by Argentina.

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As the global caseload exceeds 83 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, here’s a look at some latest updates on the Covid-19 vaccination front:

1. After conducting a two-day vaccine dry run on December 28 and 29, India will hold a nationwide exercise on Saturday. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab were the four states where the dry run was held on Monday and Tuesday. Three vaccine candidates, including Pfizer’s, have applied for emergency use authorisation (EUA) in India. However, Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin seem ahead in the race to become the country’s first Covid-19 vaccine.

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2. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday granted “emergency validation” to Pfizer’s vaccine, its first since the start of the pandemic. The WHO decision will enable UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to procure the vaccine for distribution to the countries in need.

3. The European Union (EU) on Thursday said Germany’s BioNTech SE, which has developed a vaccine with America’s Pfizer Inc, has sought approval for an additional vaccine dose from each vial, instead of the five currently approved. The request, the 27-nation bloc said, will be reviewed by its human medicines committee, “in the shortest time frame possible.”

4. Pakistan said on Thursday China has assured of providing it with over a million doses of the vaccine developed by Sinopharm, for emergency use. The vaccine, China’s first homegrown for Covid-19, was, earlier in the day, granted “conditional approval.” Pakistan, according to reports, has decided to “pre-book” the vaccine for its healthcare workers.

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