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AstraZeneca vaccine set to become first to get approval in India-sources

NEW DELHI, Jan 1 (Reuters) - India’s drug regulator is set to approve on Friday a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The decision would pave the way for the vaccine’s rollout in the world’s second-most populous country which, after the United States, has the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world.

Britain and Argentina have already authorised the vaccine for urgent public use.

India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), whose experts were meeting for the second time this week, could also approve a vaccine locally developed by Bharat Biotech, two of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

“Both AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech will get approval today,” said one of the sources. “All preparations are on with today’s date in mind.”

The other sources were less certain about Bharat Biotech’s prospects.

A CDSCO representative declined to comment. The group is meeting a day ahead of a nationwide trial run here for vaccine delivery in the country with more than 10 million coronavirus infections.

More than 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have already been stockpiled by its local manufacturer, Serum Institute of India (SII), and one of the sources said the shots could start to be transported from cold storage to Indian states as early as Saturday.

SII did not immediately respond to an email request seeking comment.

The government said on Wednesday that Pfizer Inc had sought more time to present data for emergency authorisation of a vaccine it has developed with Germany’s BioNTech. (Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Krishna N. Das and Nigam Prusty: Editing by Neil Fullick)

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