Ministry authorises India's Covaxin jab for use in Cambodia

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Ministry of Health has authorised the Indian-made Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin for temporary emergency use in Cambodia. AFP

The Ministry of Health has authorised the Indian-made Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin for temporary emergency use in Cambodia.

According to a notice of emergency use authorisation (EUA) issued by health minister Mam Bun Heng on November 5, the vaccine is permitted to be used for people aged 18 and over.

The vaccine is produced by Bharat Biotech International Limited, a pharmaceutical firm based in the Indian state of Telangana.

The ministry said the approval is based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) dated November 3.

“[Covaxin] is permitted for use only during the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic as public health emergency.

An EUA is valid only within the duration of the declared public health emergency due to Covid-19, the notice indicates, adding that the jabs are to be used according to the priorities set by the government, as stated in applicable distribution plans.

The ministry also instructed the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) to work with relevant institutions on improving the management of safety issues and clinical response to adverse effects of the vaccines

WHO issued the EUL for Covaxin on November 3, in a move expected to increase Covid-19 jabs available in poor countries.

With a 78 per cent efficacy rate after two doses over a month, Covaxin “is extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements”, the UN body said.

Covaxin is the first vaccine completely developed and manufactured in India to receive WHO approval, becoming the eighth jab against Covid-19 on the UN agency’s list.

Unlike mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that have emerged as leading jabs against Covid-19, Covaxin uses the more traditional “inactivated” technology that has been used for decades in vaccines against diseases like polio, seasonal influenza and rabies.

The technology uses a dead version of a germ that causes a disease to boost the immune response.

One of the main advantages of such vaccines is that they are more easily stored that mRNA jabs, which need to be kept at sub-zero temperatures. This makes them easier to distribute, especially in poor countries that may lack the needed facilities.

Covaxin can be stored between 2-8 degrees Celsius, according to the company website.

Additional reporting by AFP