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Covid-19 vaccines in India

Two doses of both vaccines need to be administered. (Photo: Pixabay)

What you must know about Covid-19 vaccines in India

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that Covid-19 vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – are on the verge of being available for vaccination in India, and very soon the drive will kick off to inoculate ‘the entire 1.3 billion population after prioritising the risk groups’. The Health Minister reviewed the dry run of administering the vaccine for coronavirus at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai. A second dry run to check the best way to vaccinate people against the novel virus held at three-session sites of 736 districts across 33 States/Union Territories till 4.30 pm.

What do we know about Covid-19 vaccine Covishield

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  • Covishield is a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Its India partner is Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
  • SII has manufactured the AZD1222 vaccine in India under the brand name of Covishield.
  • The vaccine used adenovirus which causes common cold among chimpanzees. The virus was weakened and genetically modified to make the “non-replicating viral vector vaccine”, Covishield.
  • Covisheld has to be stored between 2 degrees and 8 degree Celsius (household refrigerator temperature). 
  • According to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the overall efficacy of Covishield is 70.4%. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla claimed a gap of 2.5 to 3 months between 2 vaccine doses leads to over 90% efficacy.
  • SII’s Covishield vaccine shots need to be administered with a gap of 4-6 weeks apart.
  • SII will provide Covishield to government at the price of Rs 200 per dose and will be available for Rs 1,000 per dose in the private market. 
  • Adar Poonawalla said his company can produce 50 million doses every month and he can dispatch the first batch within 7 to 10 days of receiving the procurement order. 
  • SII’s vaccine is approved for people aged 18 years and above.

What do we know about Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin

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  • Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology.
  • The ICMR isolated SARS-CoV-2 and gave the strain to the Bharat Biotech for developing an ‘inactivated’ vaccine.
  • An inactivated vaccine means that the virus used for the vaccine has no possibility of infecting the recipient. These tend to have lower adverse reactions such as pain, mild fever.
  • Covaxin has to be stored between 2 degrees and 8 degree Celsius (household refrigerator temperature). 
  • Data on the efficacy of Biotech’s Covaxin will be available post-March, once the final stage of its clinical trial is over. Company’s MD Krishna Ella is confident that the vaccine will be effective on a new strain of the virus as well.
  • The interval between two Covaxin doses should be three weeks apart.
  • The pricing of made-in-India vaccine -Covaxin- is not clear yet.
  • Bharat Biotech’s MD Dr Krishna Ella claimed that the company is ready with 20 million doses right now and will have around 700 million doses by the end of 2021.
  • Bharat Biotech’s vaccine has been approved for those 12 years and above. 

Both the vaccines are safe, as per animal and human studies reviewed by a Subject Expert Committee and DCGI.

India has the highest recovery rate and the lowest fatality rate and almost all those infected got treated and returned home. The country has been reporting a streak of very low daily new cases. Only 18,139 persons were found positive in the last 24 hours in the country. The steady fall in the new cases has ensured the contraction of the Total Active Cases. The active caseload of the country stands at 2,25,449today. The share of Active Cases in the total Positive Cases has further shrunk to 2.16%.

Distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in India

Pune will be the central hub from where the distribution of vaccine will take place. There are a total of 41 destinations (airports) across the country finalised for delivery of vaccines.

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For northern India, Delhi and Karnal will be mini-hubs, while Kolkata and Guwahati will be for the eastern part. Chennai and Hyderabad will be the designated points for southern India.

India’s drugs regulator on Sunday approved Covishield and Covaxin for restricted emergency use in the country.