Global healthcare major Johnson & Johnson is in discussions with the Indian government to begin a clinical trial of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in the country, the company said on Friday. The US Food and Drug Administration has already approved Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine that works with just one dose for emergency use in February.
"We are in discussions with the Government of India with the objective of starting a bridging clinical study of our Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate in India, subject to local regulatory approvals," Johnson & Johnson India spokesperson said in an email reply.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures. "At Johnson & Johnson, we remain fully focused on bringing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to people around the world, if authorised for use by local health authorities," the spokesperson said.
India is currently using two vaccines for COVID-19 â€“ one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and the other developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research - National Institute of Virology. Both the vaccines are being manufactured within the country by domestic firms.
India registered a record single-day spike of 1,31,968 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, pushing its infection tally to 1,30,60,542, while the death toll increased to 1,67,642 with 780 more fatalities in a day, the highest since October 18, the Union Health Ministry data showed. Ten states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and Punjab have shown a steep rise in the daily COVID-19 cases accounting for 84.21 per cent of the 1,26,789 new infections, the Union Health Ministry said. The national weekly COVID-19 positivity rate has increased by 6.21 per cent from 2.19 to 8.40 per cent in the first seven days of March and April, it added.
Several states have also reported vaccine shortages, that the Union government has denied. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless and the states, including Maharashtra need to improve the implementation of their testing and containment strategies and vaccination drive.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also announced â€˜Tika Utsavâ€™ (Vaccine Festival) between April 11 and 14, to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible.