Covishield vs Covaxin: All about the two vaccines being used in India from today
India has approved two made in India vaccines – Oxford-AstraZeneca’s ‘Covishield’ and Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxin’ for emergency use authorisation. Over the next six to eight months, nearly three crore high-risk people, including healthcare and frontline workers, will be inoculated during the initial phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive that has begun Saturday morning.
The government signed purchase pacts on last Monday with SII for 1.1 crore doses and for 55 lakh doses from Bharat Biotech. With the vaccination drive set to begin on January 16, here is everything you need to know about the two vaccines.
According to the central government, vaccine sites will offer either Covishield or Covaxin in order to avoid providing recipients the option to choose one vaccine over the other. The COVID-19 vaccination is not compulsory for anyone and people people can choose not to get vaccinated.
Here’s what we know about the efficiency of these vaccines so far:
This vaccine has been developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, Serum Institute of India (SII) — which is British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca’s manufacturing partner – said that the vaccine would be 90 to 95 per cent effective if the two shots are parted by around 2-3 months.
“You’ll be hearing some good news from the UK very soon… It would be a 90-95% effective vaccine if you just keep a two-to-three months’ gap between dose 1 and dose 2. They will make that public with documentation.”
Covishield, Poonawalla added, is highly effective vaccine against novel coronavirus. The vaccine is being touted as one of the most promising vaccines for India where cost and logistics play a big roll.
According to a report in NDTV, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which use a newer approach called mRNA making them more complex, fragile and require ultracold temperatures, Covishield is a vector vaccine which are slower but cheaper and importantly, can be kept stable for six months at standard refrigerator temperatures.
Covaxin has been developed by Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech and clinical research body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The NDTV report calls Covaxin an inactivated vaccine — one of the oldest methods for vaccinating people – which means that whole, inactivated viruses are injected in the body to trigger an immune response. These whole batches of coronavirus must be grown, “killed” using a chemical or heat and then made into a vaccine, making it a longer process, the report says.
Vaccination sites at the six Mumbai central government hospitals will give Covaxin. The consent form stated that the beneficiaries will be provided care in government-designated and authorized hospitals in case of any serious side effects due to the vaccine, a Times of India report said.
Beneficiaries who receive Covaxin will be paid compensation if they suffer adverse event due to the vaccine. The compensation was among the points highlighted on top of the consent form shared with the vaccination centre on Friday.
According to reports, the recipient of the vaccine will also be handed fact sheet and an adverse effect reporting form where they would have to note down symptoms suffered within the first seven days. The consent form state that the vaccine has demonstrated the ability to produce antibody against coronavirus in phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials. “However, the clinical efficacy of Covaxin is yet to be established and it is being studies in phase 3 clinical trial,” the report said.
Earlier, Bharat Biotech chairman Dr Krishna Ella speaking to News18 said India can expect interim efficacy data on its vaccine once the trials are completed. “The data is on its way. Phase III trials are going on. This sort of trial – 26,000 volunteers involved is a huge number. This has never happened. But there is not one word of appreciation for that. It is not easy to capture the efficacy now. It is easy to capture efficacy when there is a high disease burden,” Dr Ella said.
“It is easy to target Indian scientists. I had to tell this because some other company has branded my product as ‘safe like water’. Some local company in press yesterday said that safety is like water of other companies. Only three companies have done efficacy, and other vaccine is like water. I want to deny that. It hurts us as scientists; we work 24 hours and don’t deserve this type of bashing from people,” he responded to the question on the effectiveness of the vaccine.