Covid Vaccines In India: A Guide To Understand Efficacy, Doses and Side-Effects

December 21, 2023
Team Cultivate
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India has given more than 100 million jabs of two approved COVID vaccines, i.e., Covishield and Covaxin. A third coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in India amid a deadly second wave of COVID. Russia's Sputnik V has been deemed safe and works similarly to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being made in India as Covishield.

Further, according to trials published in The Lancet, Sputnik V gives around 92% protection against COVID-19. Sputnik V's approval came when India overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases globally.

With a total case tally of more than 13.5 million, India is only behind the United States, reporting more than 31 million cases. Moreover, with 13.4 million cases, Brazil now stands at number three.

The 3 COVID Vaccines in India

There are three COVID vaccines in India that particularly need to be discussed. Two out of the three have already been given to the general public. The third vaccine has been approved for mass inoculation. Know more about the top Indian covid vaccines.

1. Covaxin Vaccine Details

Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine. That means it is made up of dead coronaviruses, making it safe to be injected inside the body. A 24-year-old vaccine producer with a portfolio of 16 vaccines and exports to 123 countries, Bharat Biotech, used a sample of the coronavirus isolated by the National Institute of Virology.

When administered, immune cells can still recognize the dead virus, promoting the immune system to make antibodies against the virus.

Efficacy of Covaxin and Side Effects

The company analyzed and claimed the efficiency rate of Covaxin at 81% for the jab. Further, it is effective against the UK variant as well. 

Some common yet rare side-effects such as pain, redness, stiffness in the upper arm, body ache, weakness in the arm, headache, malaise, and itching or stiffness at the injection spot were reported. 

Doses

Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine given in a gap of 28 days from the first dose.

2. Covishield Vaccine Details

The Serum Institute of India is locally manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.It is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer and produces more than 60 million doses a month. 

The vaccine is made using a weakened version of the common cold virus (Adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to behave more like coronavirus, although it cannot cause illness. 

When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection. Furthermore, the jab is administered in two doses given between 4 and 12 weeks apart. It can be safely stored at temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius and can quickly be delivered in existing healthcare environments such as clinics. 

Several countries are currently administering the jab developed by Pfizer-BioNTech. However, it must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius and can only be moved a limited number of times, making it challenging in India, where the temperature in summers can easily reach 50 degrees Celsius.

Efficacy of Covishield

International clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or Covishield showed that when people were given a half dose and then a full dose, the effectiveness score was good. The average Covishield efficacy rate was somewhere around 90%. 

On the other hand, unpublished data suggests that leaving a longer gap between the first and second doses increases the overall efficacy of the jab. 

Side Effects Of Covishield

Minimal side effects were seen in 1 out of 10 people, such as pain, warmth, tenderness, swelling, itching, or bruises on the injection site. Rare symptoms include fatigue, chills, feeling feverish, nausea, joint pain, or muscle ache. 

Doses

Covishield is also a two-dose vaccine and is administered between 4 to 12 weeks apart.

3. What About Sputnik V?

The Sputnik V is another of the covid vaccines in India approved very recently. Developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, Sputnik V initially generated controversy after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released. But scientists say that its benefits have now been demonstrated. 

It uses a cold-type virus as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body and is engineered to be harmless. Moreover, it safely exposes the body to a part of the virus's genetic code to recognize the threat and learn to fight it off without any risk of becoming ill. 

After being vaccinated, the body starts producing antibodies especially tailored to the coronavirus, priming the immune system to fight coronavirus when it faces it for real. 

It can be stored at temperatures between 2 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees Celsius, making it easier to transport and store. 

Doses

Unlike other vaccines, the Sputnik jab uses two slightly different vaccines for the first and second doses.

Moreover, it is given 21 days apart. They both target the coronavirus's distinctive spike but use different vectors. 

The idea behind it is that using two different formulas boosts the immune system even more than using the same version twice, giving it long-lasting protection. 

Efficacy of Sputnik V

With an efficiency of 91.6%, Sputnik V is closer to Moderna and Pfizer. As per the clinical trials, Moderna and Pfizer showed an efficiency of 95%. 

Side Effects

In some cases, people developed a fever which is the immune system's natural way of giving the body a boost. Besides, rarely anyone required any hospitalization, and other side effects were not related to the vaccination. 

How To Register For Covid Vaccine In India

A major question you might have is how to get the COVID vaccine in India. For that, you need to register at CoWin. Once registered, you can enter your ID details like your Aadhar card. Following that, you can choose from an available slot in your desired pin code and get the dose.

Related Read: Don’t Fall For These COVID Vaccine Myths

Which One Should You Take?

The short answer to this question is to take whichever one is available to you at the earliest. All these vaccines are our best bet to come out of this pandemic. The more people get vaccinated, the better immunity is attained against the virus. In short, we need to move fast towards herd immunity. This means that 70% of India needs to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. 

To achieve immunity and take utmost care of your health, we need to make sure that we buy health insurance that gives cover against Covid or any other health condition.

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