Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Of virus, vaccine, and vehemence


By Dr. Ayanava Basu

India is witnessing the biggest Covid-19 vaccination drive in the world with two vaccines rolled out – Covishield and Covaxin.

Probably, by now, you have seen the video on social media. A senior doctor has not informed his wife and got himself vaccinated for Covid-19. His wife is extremely dismayed for him getting vaccinated alone and giving him a piece of her mind over the phone while the doctor is live on social media.

Why is she so angry? Two explanations are doing the rounds:

One, the selfishness of the doctor, where he left his family and got himself vaccinated. Two, because of the perceived side effects of the vaccine, the doctor was not supposed to get vaccinated, which he did against his wife’s caution.

This essentially captures the vehemence of people’s psyche for a vaccine which is having both vaccine eagerness and serious apprehensions.

Currently, in India, two vaccines are in use – Covishield, and Covaxin.

The pandemic has ravaged the whole world for a year and continuing.

Vaccine candidates from different sources were researched and are coming to people for use.

Currently, in India, two vaccines are in use. Covishield – The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which is being prepared in India by Serum Institute and the Covaxin – prepared indigenously by Bharat Biotech with support from Indian Council for Medical Research.

With much fanfare, both the vaccines were launched on 16th January 2021.

The intended beneficiary of the vaccine was those, in most need. As per the operational guideline released by MOHFW regarding Covid vaccination in India, the beneficiaries of phase-I vaccination are health workers, frontline workers, and prioritized age groups so that maximum people can be protected, along with minimizing societal and economic impact.

Beneficiaries of Covid vaccination phase-I:


Comparisons between Covid vaccines being used in India:

Prepared byBharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR)Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZeneca. In India, Serum Institute of India (SII)
Type of vaccineInactivated or dead Corona virus which can produce immune response, but not the diseaseCombining Chimpanzee common cold virus (Adenovirus) along with Spike protein of Corona virus
DosageTwo dose, 28 days apartTwo dose, 4-12 weeks apart
Temperature for storage2-8 degree Celsius2-8 degree Celsius
Route of deliveryIntramuscular InjectionIntramuscular Injection
Approval statusCentral Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) approval as Vaccines for Restricted Use in Emergency SituationCentral Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) approval as Vaccines for Restricted Use in Emergency Situation
EfficacyFinal data is awaitedApproximately 70% as per current data, further details awaited. Recent study showed
SafetyDrugs Controller General of India (DCGI) VG Somani categorically said, “[Both] vaccines are 110% safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine.”DCGI VG Somani categorically said, “[Both] vaccines are 110% safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine.”
PricingPer dose pricing is comparable with Covishield pricing for Government, open market pricing is yet to be announcedPer dose pricing is Rs 200 for Government, Rs 1,000 when sold in open market

About the vaccines and their reception:

Despite passing through 2020, where a virus that wasn’t known a year back, wreaked havoc, killed millions, jeopardized the global economy, continue to baffle us with its mystery-shrouded origin and continuous mutations, apprehension against its vaccine is significant.

As per a recent study, 5,396 post-vaccinated health workers showed no serious side-effects requiring hospitalization.

India is struggling to reach its intended beneficiaries who are due for the vaccine at the specified venue at a specified date and time. Like the election, it is decided by the authority, where and when one can get the vaccine. The person is contacted by phone or message or other means. She must turn up at that specified venue at a specified date and time to get vaccinated. Sadly, no show or refusals are marring the effort, where millions are waiting eagerly for the same.

The main reason being the fear of unknown.


A recent study on 5,396 post-vaccinated individuals – all of them health workers – showed none of them had serious side-effects requiring hospitalization.

Some minor side effects were expected and were consistent with the immune response from similar viral vaccines and correspond to Phase-II/III trial data. Of those who had it, 94% were relieved within 48 hours. For all, the side effects were mild and short-lived.

A recent study on Covishield shows, even a single dose can protect 76% of vaccines for up to three months and significantly cut down on the transmission of the virus.

As more results come out, confidence is bolstered more and more.

But, one thing is for sure. We now have something real to stand against this deadly virus. And that is called vaccines. And the old saying, more than ever, is true even today, that ‘Vaccines Save Lives!’

The more people understand and embrace that, the safer will be it for all.

(References: MOHFW, CME India, SSRN)

Also Read: Is India really ready for the 5G rollout?

(Dr. Ayanava Basu is a public health professional working with a UN agency.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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