How bad are the side effects of COVID-19 Vaccine shots that are being supplied in India? Is there anything to fear?

The inoculation drive started a few days ago in India against the coronavirus pandemic and the light at the end of the tunnel seems to have gotten a little dim since reports of those inoculated and its aftermath came out. Even though we don’t have much to worry about at this point, the emergency use approval given to the Bharat Biotech and Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccines made it apparent that the two vaccines couldn’t be relied on completely, provided the clinical trials haven’t been completed. Worst of this unpredictable paradigm is the fact that the first phase of vaccination drive began with our frontline and healthcare workers, who have been ahead this entire time to protect us from this unprecedented virus. Until we’re sure of how safe the vaccine is, I’m afraid we’re putting our protectors on risk.
After the first day of Phase 1 of inoculation that began in 3006 centres across the country on Saturday, January 16th, about 580 cases of adversity came out from the alleged total of 3,81,305 people vaccinated. The aforementioned cases of adversity include adverse events, side effects and adverse reactions- the extent of whom varied significantly.
Side effects are often predictable by physicians and specialists and vary less significantly on the body immunity and more on the contents of the prescribed drug- vaccines in this case. Some side effects can be common for people and thus, are less adverse, while the other are uncommon and have more link to the person effected than the drug individually. Some of these common side effects, which are common to most drugs and thus, vaccines include, redness or pain in the injected body part, fatigue, headache, nausea or fever like symptoms.
Even though these symptoms are common and may be found as a valid side effect of the vaccine, only one-tenth of the people immunised encountered these common side effects. This is a relatively low figure but as we go forward with the inoculation process and expert reports come out, a more certain revelation could be made only then. In case of such a side effect, the patient can be helped by giving them a paracetamol. For pain or swelling in the injection site, a cold wet washcloth can be put on the affected area.
Some of the uncommon side effects that may be people specific include- dizziness, reduced appetite or rashes. A woman inoculated on the first day of phase-1 vaccination drive also showed the uncommon side effect of excessive sweating as and when she was given the vaccine. On fairly rare incidents, reports of the demyelinating disorder are also observed. This disorder weaken the protective wall of the nerve fibre, optic cord or spinal cord and may result in neurological issues. Further reports and experts’ comment on the same is still awaited. However, this put into question the safety of circulating vaccines.
An adverse event can be classified as any unanticipated medical emergency that might not explicitly have any relationship with the vaccine. It may or may not be linked to the vaccine and hence, their causal relationship with the vaccine can be commented on only after a medical report. When such an adverse event, after reports, is proven to be linked to the vaccine, it is referred to as adverse drug reaction and needs to be looked into more detail to ensure it doesn’t happen to anybody else. Any serious adverse drug reaction can be explicitly connected to the drug’s safety and effectiveness.
Of the 52 people feeling discomfort after the vaccine, 1 has been admitted to the hospital due to issues like rashes, headache, respiratory distress, and tachycardia. After being hurriedly admitted to the ICU ward All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the patient showed no signs of immediate recovery after being given Avil and Hydrocortisone and thus, was given Adrenaline to calm his body reactions. Further improvement in the case is still awaited.
A report issued by the Health ministry stated that 2 people have died after the vaccination took place this Saturday. One of those people belonged to UP while the other was from Karnataka. According to the statement issued by the ministry, the post mortem report of the deceased that belonged to UP, suggested that the cause of death was cardiopulmonary disease i.e. pockets of pus in lungs and enlarged heart, and was unrelated to the vaccine. This raises one concern- how are people with such serious health conditions being vaccinated without proper check ups? Even though the statement issued denies the link of vaccine completely, death one day after vaccination raises unequivocal questions. The post mortem of the other 43 year old Karnataka’s deceased is still to be undertaken.
It is suggested that people with severe health conditions inform their in-centre vaccine provider about those conditions beforehand and make a call after being completely sure of the safety in accordance with their condition.
Three days after the world’s largest inoculation drive kicked in, CoVaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech released a fact sheet suggesting who all shouldn’t take the vaccine and what all predictions should be undertaken before and after taking the CoVaxin vaccine. It is advised that people with allergies, fever, bleeding disorder, weak immunity or on medicines that affect their immunity, should refrain themselves from taking the Covishield vaccine shot, until further development. Along with that, pregnant and breastfeeding women, owing to a more fragile immunity, should also refrain from getting themselves inoculated with the CoVaxin vaccine. Company informed people of the common side effects that maybe witnessed after a shot is taken, including pain, swelling, itches, rashes or malaise. Some adverse drug reactions like increase in heartbeat rate, breathings discomfort, swelling of face or body rashes are also been informed about.
The data hence mentioned is after 4 days of vaccine drives and reports by experts being published on the subject matter. More clarity and details of the adverse events as well as proper claims are awaited for people to be sure about the vaccines.

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