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India pre-orders 300 million doses of unapproved Covid-19 vaccine by domestic drugmaker Biological-E

India pre-orders 300 million doses of unapproved Covid-19 vaccine by domestic drugmaker Biological-E
The Indian government has paid some $205 million in advance for 300 million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine by domestic firm Biological-E. The shot has not been approved yet and is still undergoing clinical trials.

The advance agreement was announced by India’s health ministry on Thursday, and is the first deal inked by New Delhi to procure a vaccine in the early stage of development.

Little is known about the shot by Biological-E, which is one of the oldest vaccine-making companies in the country. The jab is said to be undergoing phase-3 clinical trials and is expected to be “manufactured and procured between August-December” this year.

Apart from developing its own vaccine, Biological-E also has a deal to produce around 600 million Johnson &Johnson Covid-19 shots annually. Earlier this week, the company also said it had reached a licensing agreement with Canada-based Providence Therapeutics Holdings to manufacture its vaccine, the PTX-COVID19-B. The vaccine, based on messenger RNA technology, remains in the very early stages of development. Biological-E will conduct clinical trials for Providence's jab in India, and seek approval for its emergency use.

India has been struggling with a devastating second wave of coronavirus, which hit the country hard over the past few weeks.While the situation has recently improved, India still registers over 100,000 new cases daily, with its all-time tally currently hovering just below 28.5 million. Nearly 338,000 people have succumbed to the disease in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

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While the Indian government has launched a massive inoculation campaign, so far only around 3% of the country’s massive 1.36 billion population have been fully vaccinated. In total, more than 221 million doses of various coronavirus vaccines have been distributed among India’s population.

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