India OKs AstraZeneca and locally-made COVID-19 vaccines

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NEW DELHI (AP) – India has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country.

India’s drugs regulator on Sunday gave an emergency authorization for the vaccines developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and another developed by the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

The country’s initial immunization plan aims to vaccinate 300 million people – health care workers, front-line staff including police and those considered vulnerable due to their age or other diseases – by August 2021.

India, with nearly 1.4 billion people, is the second-worst affected by the coronavirus after the U.S., with over 10.3 million confirmed cases and 149,435 deaths, though its rate of infection has come down significantly from a mid-September peak.

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