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India starts corona vaccinations - experts criticize approval


New Delhi. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the start of the "world's largest corona vaccination campaign". In the medium term, it should reach all 1.3 billion Indians. "The country can be proud of the contribution that its scientists and technicians have made," Modi told Indian media on Monday.

Last Sunday, the Indian authorities approved the Covishield vaccine developed by the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the Covaxin vaccine from the Indian company Bharat Biotech. The Indian Serum Institute will undertake the mass production of both vaccines. India has the highest number of corona cases worldwide. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 10.3 million cases have been registered, of which 9.98 million are considered recovered. 150,000 Indians died as a result of the corona infection.

In the Indian media, vaccination and health experts were "shocked" by the approval of the Indian vaccine. The data from the clinical phase 1 and phase 2 studies have not been approved by the government for expert assessment and the phase 3 study has not yet been completed, doctors criticized. "I've never seen anything like it," said Gagandeep Kang, one of India's most respected epidemiologists and vaccine experts, on Monday the Times of India. "Absolutely no efficacy data have been presented or published," criticized the professor from the renowned Christian Medical College in Vellore.

The political opposition accused Prime Minister Modi of wanting to legitimize his Hindu nationalist policies with the premature approval of Covaxin. Shashi Tharoor said on Twitter that putting a vaccine on the market before a phase 3 clinical trial proved its effectiveness was "a violation of any scientific standard". "Hurray patriotism is no substitute for common sense," emphasized the prominent politician of the Congress party. (KNA)