The total number of cases of Covid -19 in India currently stands at 10.3 M cases; of these, 9.95 M have recovered, and 150K deaths have been reported so far.
The race for a vaccine against this dreaded virus has tapered as many pharmaceutical companies have now introduced their respective vaccines in the market; each has assured the general public that the vaccines have come out in the market after all due trials and safety of the use of the vaccine even though few cases of the side – effects of some of these vaccines have been reported in the media particularly in the US and Britain that are working with Pfizer and BioNtech vaccines.
India gears for the vaccination drive after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approved the ‘Covishield’ vaccine from Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxin’ for emergency use and paving the way for its rollout and administration to million in the country.
Indian politics, however, even during these challenging times, sticks to its generational taunts and challenges as Bihar Congress leader Ajit Sharma recently called out Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the first shot of the Coronavirus vaccine albeit to assure the citizens of this country.
Former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also took a pot shot and has refused to receive a “BJP Vaccine” and yet in the same breath has promised the state of free vaccines when he comes to power next year.
Even as the political drama has ensued on the treatment of the emergency – use – only approved vaccines in the country, some questions need answering and some specific points that need to be considered.
Where is the Data that the two vaccines approved – Covishield and Covaxin – are safe for use?
This even as the Indian authorities approved the two covid vaccines on Sunday for emergency use, many have pointed out that there is no data to show the efficacy and the safety of these vaccines.
Hence, several have raised the red flag citing that India may be following Russia’s steps that did not publish any data relating to the Covid vaccine Sputnik V; at the same time, it began a mass vaccination drive even when the Sputnik V was still in early stages of Phase 3 trials.
In contrast, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin began Phase 3 trials in mid – November and needed to inoculate more volunteers; however, the government-appointed Subject Expert Committee was convinced that the Covaxin’s inactivated virus might be mere effective against mutations. And hence DCGI has mandated on Covaxin recipients to be followed up with regularly.
Furthermore, different opinions are pouring in on the two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – from authorities in chief institutions like DCGI, ICMR, and AIIMS; also, since a lot of the empirical trial data is being held back, experts too are not in a great position to offer an informed opinion.
3 CR frontline to get free vaccines in 1st phase
On Saturday, the Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said starting the first phase of the vaccination drive; free coronavirus vaccines will be given to three crore people who have been on the frontline – 1 crore health care workers and two crore frontline workers.
He also added that he had had personally reviewed the dry run of the vaccine in a Delhi hospital and assured on the safety of the vaccine, adding that there should not be any rumors citing the vaccine’s safety and that every detail has been checked and comparing the coronavirus vaccine rollout to the initial days of the Polio vaccine rollout.
Common Questions Answered
- Is the Vaccine Safe?
The government has assured the citizens that vaccines are safe. The Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has also stated that the first phase of the vaccination drive will begin soon. He has said that after the regulatory bodies have cleared the vaccines based on their safety and efficacy, only then will they be introduced in the country.
- Is it mandatory to get Vaccinated?
Taking the Covid -19 vaccine is voluntary; however, it has been advised to receive the complete vaccine schedule for protection against Covid -19.
- Is it mandatory for a Covid recovered person to get vaccinated?
It has been advised to receive the complete vaccine schedule irrespective of the past history of infection because this will help the body develop a strong immune response.
- Can the vaccine be taken by a person already on medication for an illness like cancer, diabetes, etc.?
Yes, people with comorbid conditions are considered more vulnerable, so they need to get vaccinated.
- Can a person presently having a confirmed/suspected Covid infection be vaccinated?
Persons with confirmed/suspected Covid -19 infection may increase the risk of spreading the same to others at the vaccination sites. So, they should defer vaccination for 14 days after symptom resolution.
- How is the vaccine chosen for administration out of the multiple vaccines available?
Only the Covid -19 vaccines that receive a license by the Drug Regulator will be safe and effective. However, it must be warranted that the entire vaccination schedule is completed by only one type of vaccine as different Covid -19 vaccines are not interchangeable.
- What documents are required for the registration process?
Any government-issued photo ID can be produced at the time of registration. Valid documents include Aadhaar, Driving License, PAN card, Voter ID, etc. The eligible beneficiaries will be informed on their registered mobile number.
- How will the beneficiaries receive information about the due date of vaccination?
Followed by a mandatory registration, the beneficiary will receive an SMS on their mobile number about the due date, time, and place of vaccination where they need to be present with a photo ID. After getting the vaccine, the beneficiary will receive a QR – code-based certificate on their mobile number.
- How many doses will be needed to be taken, and how long will it take to develop the antibodies?
Two doses, 28 days apart, need to be taken by a person as a complete vaccination schedule. Protective levels of the antibodies are generally developed two weeks after taking the second dose of the vaccine.
- What are the possible side – effects of the Covid -19 vaccine?
According to the government, it is currently unclear what side effects it may cause, and the vaccine will be introduced only when the safety is proven. Like other vaccines, typical side effects may include mild fever, pain at the injection site, etc. States have been asked to make arrangements to deal with Covid -19 vaccine-related side – effects.
Meanwhile, a dry run for the Covid -19 vaccine will be conducted at eight cities in Delhi; the dry run in Delhi had begun last week, starting with three sites.
While the government has assured that the vaccines are being rolled out after all necessary safety and efficacy checks, the government’s assurance might be enough for the majority. Still, for a few, data from the clinical trials establishing the safety and the efficacy of these vaccines might be a bigger consolation.