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Friday, July 30, 2021

Moderna to be India’s fourth Covid vaccine. Here’s a quick primer on the other three

Research trials have shown that Moderna's mRNA vaccine, which is administered in two doses, was 95.4 per cent effective at preventing Covid cases for males and 93.1 per cent for females.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 29, 2021 8:22:08 pm
A medic shows a vial of the Covid-19 Sputnik V vaccine during its launch in Bengaluru, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Moderna’s Covid vaccine is on course to become the latest addition to India’s vaccination drive as the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave approval to Mumbai-based Cipla to import the vaccine for restricted emergency use in the country.

Dr VK Paul, who heads the Covid Task Force in the country, said: “An application was received from Moderna through their Indian partner Cipla following which Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has been granted restricted emergency use authorisation by the drug regulator.”

“This new permission for restricted emergency use potentially opens up a clear possibility of this vaccine being imported to India in the near future,” Paul added.

Here’s a list of Covid vaccines currently approved for use in India:


On Monday, pharmaceutical company Cipla, on behalf of the US pharma major, had requested the drug regulator for import and marketing authorisation of the Moderna jabs.

The US government will also be sending a certain number of doses to India through Covax, a programme by WHO and GAVI to ensure equitable distribution of the Covid vaccine.

Research trials have shown that the mRNA vaccine, which is administered in two doses, was 95.4 per cent effective at preventing Covid cases for males and 93.1 per cent for females.

In fact, a study by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that just a single dose of Moderna reduced the risk of infection by 80 per cent two weeks or more after the first of two shots. CDC recommends a gap of 28 days between the two doses.


The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India was one of the first Covid vaccines to be approved for use in India.

Experts note that even one dose of Covishield is over 70 per cent effective in protecting from severe disease and hospitalisation against the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus.

Indian guidelines for Covishield vaccination have evolved from a recommendation of a gap of 4-6 weeks in February, to 6-8 weeks in March, and finally to 12-16 weeks in May. These were based on the data from clinical trials conducted to prove the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, and are summarised below.


The Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, India’s first indigenously produced Covid jab, was approved for emergency use while it was still undergoing trials. The vaccine has shown the ability to bring down symptomatic Covid-19 cases by 77.80 per cent, according to data from its phase 3 trials, which was reviewed by the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

The pharma company has recently submitted its proposal for Emergency Use Listing approval by the World Health Organisation.

Sputnik V

The Russian vaccine, developed by Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, was approved for use in India in May.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, based in Hyderabad, has partnered with the Russian sovereign fund RDIF, to distribute the doses in India. According to results published in The Lancet, the vaccine has an efficacy of 91.6 per cent.

The Centre has fixed the maximum price of Covishield for private Covid-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) at Rs 780 per dose, while that of Covaxin at Rs 1,410 per dose. Sputnik V is priced at Rs 1,145 per dose.

Several other vaccines are in the pipeline to expedite India’s vaccination drive against Covid-19. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is in talks with the Indian government to explore ways to speed up the delivery of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in the country, Reuters reported Tuesday. Last week, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had said that the Pfizer Covid vaccine is now in final stages to get approval for use in India. Other vaccines such as Novavax and Biological E’s Corbevax are also expected to roll-out in the future.

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