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The Indian government is considering reviewing Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca's vaccines for emergency use on an accelerated basis, Reuters reported, citing a top government official. This has raised hopes that inoculation efforts could begin within weeks.

"We are in the process of reviewing. It is an accelerated reviewing process, which is there for Serum too," the government official said. "All applications are accelerated. It is the need of the hour."

Serum Institute, which is making AstraZeneca's Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in India, had lodged the first formal application for emergency use approval for AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine. Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted that the move to apply for emergency use "will save countless lives".

"As promised, before the end of 2020, Serum Institute India has applied for emergency use authorisation for the first made-in-India vaccine, COVISHIELD. This will save countless lives, and I thank the Government of India and Sri Narendra Modi ji for their invaluable support," Poonawala tweeted.

According to the ICMR, the Serum has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine under the at-risk manufacturing and stockpiling license it obtained from the drugs regulator.

The application for emergency authorization in India is one of the first globally for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has the most supply deals around the world.

Pfizer applied for emergency use authorization of its coronavirus vaccine over the weekend, the official said.

Meanwhile, Britain is preparing to become the first country to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, initially making the shot available at hospitals for care workers and the most vulnerable before distributing stocks to doctors' clinics.

Supplies have started to arrive in Britain from Pfizer's manufacturing site in Belgium. In total, Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people. About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week. (With Agency Inputs)

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