New Delhi: Officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO) had a meeting with those of Bharat Biotech, and the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker's dossier for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of Covaxin is under review by the technical experts for consideration, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said on Monday.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Singh also said that India has been offered 7.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine through WHO's COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) programme.
The WHO Regional Director said, "Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Sinovac and Sinopharm have been granted EUL by the WHO. For COVXIN, an expression of interest for EUL has been made to WHO by Bharat Biotech. WHO has already conducted a pre-submission meeting with the company, following which a dossier has been submitted by Bharat Biotech to WHO in early July. The dossier is currently under review by the technical experts for consideration of EUL."
Delta variant of coronavirus could become the most dominant COVID strain, Dr Singh cautioned. "Delta variant has spread to over 100 countries. Looking at the way it is spreading, it is likely to soon become the most dominant COVID strain globally," the regional director added.
"Among all variants of concern, Delta spreads most rapidly. The rapid spread means more cases, leading to more pressure on health systems and more deaths," she said.
The WHO South-East Asia director noted that globally, COVID cases and fatalities were on the rise again.
"The more we allow the virus to spread, the more it will evolve, resulting in more variants. We need to ensure that public health and social measures are consistently implemented. These interventions have proven to be effective even against the delta variant," she said.
Dr Singh also urged people to act 'urgently' to contain the spread of the virus and aggressively scale up vaccination, especially of the vulnerable population, for containment of a possible third wave.
"People are longing to go back to their normal lives which is understandable. However, we have to be reminded of the huge risk of letting our guards down. We witnessed that very recently and continue to do so globally even today. If we take the precautions, get vaccinated and leave no room for the virus to infect us, together we can contain the spread of the virus," she noted.
She further said that for the past 10 weeks, COVID cases have been continuously increasing in some Eastern Mediterranean, European and Southeast Asian countries.
Dr Singh also noted that cases are on a decline in India, Nepal, and Maldives. "However, the situation continues to be a cause for concern," she said.
"The pandemic isn't over anywhere. We must continue to strengthen our capacity. There is absolutely no room for complacency. We need to prevent another surge and scale up our response capacity along with our vaccination programmes," she added.