New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday officially approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' for "restricted emergency use" in India.

In a press briefing on Sunday morning, the DCGI said that Covaxin and Covishield -- which is being manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) -- will be administered in two dosages while Zydus Cadila COVID-19 vaccine will have three dosages.

"We'll never approve anything if there is slightest of safety concern. The vaccines are 100 per cent safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine. It (people may get impotent) is absolute rubbish," DCGI's Dr V G Somani was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.

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Following the approval from DCGI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the scientists and innovators for their hardwork and called it a 'decisive' moment in India's fight against the dreadful coronavirus pandemic.

"A decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight! DCGI granting approval to vaccines of Serum Institue of India and Bharat Biotech accelerates the road to healthier and COVID-free nation. Congratulations India. Congratulations to our hardworking scientists and innovators," PM Modi said in a tweet.

DCGI granting nod to Serum Institute of India's 'Covishield' vaccine and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' for 'restricted emergency use' is a major relief for India which is the second-worst affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in the world. This has also paved the way for their roll-out and administration to millions.

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Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech had applied for emergency use authorisation of their COVID-19 vaccines along with Pfizer last year. However, the central government had said that the vaccines will be rolled out only after verifying their "safety and effectiveness".

Later, an expert panel was formed which had recommended Oxford-Astra Zeneca's 'Covishield' and Bharat Biotech's indigenous 'Covaxin' for emergency use approval on January 1 and 2 respectively.

How the central government is planning to launch COVID-19 vaccination drive?

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has announced that nearly 30 people will be administered with COVID-19 vaccine shots in the first phase in the next six to eight months.

The Union Health Ministry said that vaccine will be first offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.

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Regarding the price, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has already said that the vaccines will be provided for free to most beneficiaries in the first phase. Debunking myths about vaccines, Vardhan has said that vaccination drive in India will be similar to the election process planned down to the booth level.

"It is as a result of our steadfastness and dedication that India was declared polio-free in 2014. Our rich learning from the earlier immunisation drives, including the polio vaccination campaign, is being used to guide our present countrywide COVID-19 vaccination campaign," he said on Saturday. 

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma