The central government has approved two vaccines and one anti-viral drug against the coronavirus on Tuesday. Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that Covid-19 vaccines Corbevax and Covovax, and anti-viral medication Molnupiravir have been granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for use in the country.

“Further strengthening the fight against COVID-19, CDSCO, @MoHFW_INDIA has given 3 approvals in a single day for: Corbevax vaccine, Covovax vaccine, anti-viral drug Molnupiravir,” Mandaviya said in a tweet today.

The recently-approved vaccines and medication will join the six other shots – Serum Institute’s Covishield, Bharat biotech’s Covaxin, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D, Russian Sputnik V, and inoculations by Moderna and Johnson and Johnson – that have received emergency use authorisation by the Indian drug regulator.

The Corbevax vaccine is a RBD protein sub-unit vaccine utilising the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The jab has been jointly developed by Biological E, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and U.S.-based Dynavax Technologies, and will be manufactured by the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company.

The Covovax vaccine has been developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and U.S.-based Novavax. The vaccine will be manufactured and marketed in India by the Adar Poonawalla-led vaccine manufacturer. Covovax has already received approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use, as well as emergency use authorisations in Indonesia and Philippines. The SII-Novavax jab is a recombinant nanoparticle protein-based COVID-19 vaccine with Matrix-M adjuvant that can be administered to people aged 18 years and above.

Covovax is being evaluated in two Phase III trials – one in the U.K. and another in the U.S. and Mexico. In the U.K. trials, the jab has demonstrated efficacy of 96.4% against the original virus strain, 86.3% against the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant and 89.7% efficacy overall. The PREVENT-19 trial in the U.S. and Mexico has demonstrated 100% protection against moderate and severe disease and 90.4% efficacy overall. It was generally well-tolerated and elicited a robust antibody response, SII said in a statement.

Molnupiravir will now be manufactured in the country by 13 companies, informed the health minister. The drug, however, has been cleared for restricted use under emergency situations for treatment of adult patients with Covid-19 and who have high risk of progression of the disease, he added.

The drug has been developed by U.S. pharma major Merck and American biotech company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The drug can prevent the coronavirus from replicating, helping with prophylaxis, treatment, and prevention of transmission of Covid-19, Merck claims.

The approvals come as India is witnessing a new surge in Covid-19 cases on the back of more infectious Omicron variant. As of today, the number of Omicron cases in the country stands at 653, with Maharashtra accounting for the highest number of infections at 167. Among the other ten states with the highest number of Omicron cases are Delhi (165), Kerala (57), Telangana (55), Gujarat (49), Rajasthan (46), Tamil Nadu (34), Karnataka (31), Madhya Pradesh (9) and Odisha (8). So far, 186 patients infected by the Omicron variant have recovered, with 61 in Maharashtra, 30 in Rajasthan, 23 in Delhi, 16 in Tamil Nadu and 15 in Karnataka.

According to health ministry data, the active caseload in the country stands at 75,456, which accounts for less 0.22% of total cases, lowest since March 2020. Recovery rate in India is at 98.40%, which is the highest since the same month.

A total of 6,450 patients have recovered in the last 24 hours, taking the total recovery count to 3,42,43,945. Within the last 24 hours, the country saw 6,358 new Covid-19 cases. Since yesterday, 293 patients have lost their lives to the virus, taking the over Covid-19 death toll to 4,80,290.

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