India boosts arsenal with Merck pill, 2 more vaccines | Mint
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Business News/ News / India/  India boosts arsenal with Merck pill, 2 more vaccines
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India boosts arsenal with Merck pill, 2 more vaccines

The emergency approvals come at a time measures are being taken to ramp up oxygen supplies and strengthen the country’s health infrastructure

Molnupiravir will be manufactured in India by 13 companies for restricted use under emergency situations to treat adult patients with covid-19 (Photo: Reuters)Premium
Molnupiravir will be manufactured in India by 13 companies for restricted use under emergency situations to treat adult patients with covid-19 (Photo: Reuters)

The government has approved Merck’s covid-19 pill and two more vaccines for emergency use as the world’s second-most populous country braces for a possible spike in coronavirus cases due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Asia’s third-largest economy has already said it will allow covid-19 booster shots for some of its population as some states logged an uptick in Omicron cases.

The emergency approvals come at a time measures are being taken to ramp up oxygen supplies and strengthen the country’s health infrastructure.

Molnupiravir will be manufactured in India by 13 companies for restricted use under emergency situations to treat adult patients with covid-19, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday.

Merck’s anti-viral pill molnupiravir was authorized by the US last week for certain high-risk adult patients and has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by around 30% in a clinical trial.

Earlier this year, Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, Sun Pharmaceuticals and some others signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with Merck to manufacture and supply molnupiravir in India.

Two other covid-19 vaccines, Serum Institute of India’s version of Novavax Inc.’s shot, Covovax, and homegrown drugmaker Biological E’s Corbevax were also granted emergency use approval, Mandaviya said on Twitter.

Medical experts said India needs to double down on its vaccine campaign, and some states imposed night curfews and other restrictions in the run-up to New Year festivities to prevent a spike in infections and a repeat of summer 2021 when a devastating second wave of infections left tens of thousands dead.

The country’s inoculation drive so far has been dominated by a locally produced version of the AstraZeneca covid-19 shot by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s inactivated vaccine Covaxin.

India has administered 1.43 billion covid-19 vaccine doses, and 62% of its eligible population have received both doses. The country plans to vaccinate those aged 15-18 from 3 January.

Sun Pharma, Cipla, Hetero and Torrent on Tuesday announced plans to market their versions of molnupiravir shortly

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Published: 28 Dec 2021, 11:31 PM IST
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