NEW DELHI: India gave emergency approval to Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine on Saturday to ramp up its flailing immunisation campaign as fears grow of a new wave of infections, reports AFP.
Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the approval will boost the fight against the pandemic in India, where at least 200,000 people died in a brutal two-month wave up to mid-June.
The nation of 1.3 billion people has administered 500 million vaccine doses so far, but barely eight percent of the population has had two shots.
Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is the fifth to be approved after Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, the home developed Covaxin, Russia’s Sputnik V, and the US-made Moderna jab.
India remains the second worst-hit nation after the United States, with more than 32 million confirmed cases and 427,000 deaths. Because of under-reporting experts say the real toll is much higher.
They also warn that the slow vaccination pace puts India at risk from any new infection crisis. The number of new cases and deaths has started rising again in the past two weeks.
The government’s free immunisation drive relies heavily on Covishield and Covaxin and producers are struggling to meet demand.