INDIA – Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has been given Emergency Use approval in India, Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced.

He said this will further boost the country’s collective fight against the novel coronavirus infection.

India expands its vaccine basket! Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is given approval for Emergency Use in India. Now India has five EUA vaccines. This will further boost our nation’s collective fight against,” the minister tweeted.

The US-based pharmaceutical company had applied for Emergency Use Authorization for its jab on Friday and was granted the approval the same day by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), a senior official said.

Apart from the Johnson and Johnson’s COVID vaccine, four vaccines have already been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in India. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Russia-made Sputnik V, and the United States’ Moderna.

J&J earlier had sought approval to conduct phase-3 clinical trial of its vaccine on approximately 600 participants in two age groups- those aged 18 and below 60 years and those aged 60 years and above- to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of the jab in healthy Indian adults.

However, on 29 July, the firm withdrew its proposal. A health ministry official at a recent press conference had clarified that J&J earlier applied for conducting phase-3 clinical trial of its vaccine.

The application was to undertake clinical trial and when we issued relaxed guidelines in which we said if you had approval from other regulatory bodies of other countries, then exemption would be given from clinical trials, and emergency use authorization would be granted and trial could be continued later on, so now since they did not need it they withdrew that application,” the official had said.

In a bid to fast-track emergency approvals for all foreign-produced coronavirus jabs, the central government had announced that COVID-19 vaccines which were approved for restricted use by regulators in the US, UK, Europe and Japan, or which were on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing, would not have to conduct bridging clinical trials in India.

As of now, Johnson and Johnson’s COVID vaccine, unlike other COVID vaccines which are to be administered in two doses, is a single-dose vaccine shot, which makes it quite special and different from other vaccines.

Earlier clinical trials found that one dose of J & J’s vaccine produced a strong immune response in most people. This in turn led to the single-dose vaccine regimen.

Comparatively, other US-manufactured vaccines like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines produced a lower immune response after one dose, which is why there appeared need for a second dose.

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