New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The expert panel of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) will hold its key meeting on Friday and discuss granting emergency use authorisation to Oxford-AztraZeneca coronavirus vaccine 'Covishield', which is being jointly developed by Serum Institute of India (SII), in the country.

Friday's key meet comes a day after Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) hinted that it might allow emergency use authorisation to SII in the country. "Probably we will have a new year with something in hand," DCGI's Dr VG Somani said.

SII, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer are the three pharmaceutical firms that have applied for emergency use authorisation of their COVID-19 vaccines in India.

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Media reports suggest that SII is the front-runner for getting approval for emergency use in India. News agency PTI had claimed that Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' will unlikely get approval as its phase three trials are still underway while Pfizer has sought more time to present their data.

Currently, India is the second-worst affected country in the world by the coronavirus pandemic after the United States of America (USA). According to the Union Health Ministry, the deadly pandemic has affected 1.02 crore people and claimed 1.48 lakh lives in India so far.

Dry run for COVID-19 vaccination in all states, UTs on Saturday

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry will conduct a dry run for COVID-19 vaccination across all states and union territories (UTs) on Saturday "to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges".

The Union Health Ministry has said that the activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least 3 session sites.

It also said that some states will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support, while Maharashtra and Kerala are likely to schedule the dry run in major cities other than their capital.

"The objective of the dry run for COVID-19 vaccine introduction is to assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application in field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation. This is also expected to give confidence to programme managers at various levels," it said.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma