The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson will likely be available in India in small quantities by July this year, sources said.
The Association of Healthcare Providers (India) is in the process of privately procuring the vaccine directly from the US-based manufacturer.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could arrive in India as early as July, though it will be limited to a few thousand doses initially. The one-shot vaccine will be priced at $25 in India.
The viral vector vaccine does not need to be stored frozen and is suitable for a country like India, which lacks the healthcare infrastructure for storage of vaccines in sub-zero temperatures in tier-2 regions and beyond.
Johnson & Johnson has already initiated talks with the Union government to authenticate its manufacturing process and specifications in the country. The US pharmaceutical major had approached the Centre earlier in April with the objective of starting a clinical bridging study in India. Now, according to new rules, it is not mandatory for a vaccine approved by the US drug regulator to conduct bridging trials in India. With this, the vaccine is expected to be cleared for use in India in the coming months.
According to the WHO, the J&J vaccine’s efficacy was 66.3 per cent for mild to moderate Covid-19 and 76.3 per cent for severe to critical infection. Additionally, it provides 100 per cent protection from hospitalization for Covid-19 28 days after vaccination.
The US FDA had authorised Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in February 2021. However, the brisk roll-out of the vaccines has fallen flat in recent weeks after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder.
The vaccine took another hit in June, when regulators told the pharma giant that it should throw out tens of millions of additional doses produced at a plant in Baltimore because they might be contaminated.
In the UK, which gave emergency use nod to the J&J vaccine last month, infectious disease experts have suggested that a booster shot may be needed due to the increasing prevalence of the more contagious Delta variant.