By R. M. Seaa Shyin Vibi
Current Status of Vaccines in India
The success of India’s vaccination strategy can be greatly attributed to its major vaccine producers: Serum Institute of India, based in Pune, and Hyderabad’s Bharat Biotech. The two companies are manufacturing millions of vials of COVID-19 vaccine for the Indian government.
Following the shortage of the two months in several states, India has now approved the Russian Sputnik vaccine as well. Several lakh doses of this new vaccine have already been delivered to India and millions more will be manufactured domestically. India on May 14 began using Sputnik V in its battle against COVID-19 with the first dose of the vaccine from Russia administered in Hyderabad.
Current Status of Vaccines in India ?
There are four distinct types of COVID vaccine available, namely, whole virus (this can again be a weakened form or inactivated coronavirus), protein subunit, nucleic acid (RNA or DNA), and viral vector.
The Covishield is based on the viral vector platform. In simple terms, it is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus, called adenovirus, from chimpanzees and has been modified to look more like coronavirus. In the last week of March, the Indian government increased the interval between the first and second doses of Covishield from 4 to 8 weeks. It has a shelf life of 9 months at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius.
On the other hand, Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine. It contains the dead virus, which prompts an immune response but doesn’t infect or make the person sick. Covaxin requires two doses given 28 days apart and can be stored at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius. It has a shelf life of 24 months.
Like Covishield, Sputnik is also a vector vaccine, based on an adenovirus. It consists of an engineered virus without the ability to replicate or multiply, which when injected into the human body, triggers an immune response to the coronavirus spike proteins. The regimen comprises two doses to be administered 28 days apart. Like its Indian counterparts, Sputnik too remains stable at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
All three vaccines have shown promising results in their respective clinical trials.
The peer-reviewed results of the Phase-III trials of the Covishield show that it is up to 90% effective. The results also revealed that the vaccine was only 62% effective when participants were given two full doses, but its efficacy rose to 90% when a half dose followed by a full dose was administered. In all likelihood, the vaccine will be effective against the new strain as well. Covishield works effectively against the UK strain and is being tested against the Brazilian variant.
The updated second interim phase 3 trial data shows that Covaxin has an efficacy rate of 78%, a tad lower than the earlier reported efficacy of 80.6% based on the first interim trials conducted in March. The efficacy against severe COVID-19 disease was 100%, the company claimed, but that against protecting from asymptomatic COVID-19 infection was 70%. The vaccine can induce antibodies that can neutralize even the UK strain and other heterologous strains. Covaxin is successful in protecting against both, the UK and Brazilian variants.
Manufacturers of the Sputnik V vaccine released a statement detailing an impressive 95 percent efficacy rate. Calculations were based on the analysis of data on volunteers who received both the first and second doses of the Sputnik V vaccine or placebo at the second control point in accordance with the clinical trial protocol. Preliminary data from volunteers obtained 42 days after the first dose or 21 days after the second dose indicates Sputnik V’s efficacy is above 95 percent. According to the makers of the vaccine, Sputnik is one of the best options against the mutations of the virus as it is the only one that uses two totally different shots.
|Sputnik||Covishield and Covaxin|
|Developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology in association with Dr Reddy’s||Covishield is developed by the SII, Oxford University and AstraZeneca whereas Covaxin is developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR|
|91.6 percent effective||Covishield can be up to 90% effective and Covaxin has been found to be 78-81% effective|
|The interval between the 2 doses is likely to be 21 days||The interval between the 2 doses is likely to be 21 days|
Latest Updates on the COVID Vaccine
- 245 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been given in India. More than 46 million people have received 2 doses of the vaccine and are considered fully vaccinated.
- Top health officials in India have stated that both Covaxin and Covishield are effective against the mutated, UK/South Africa/Brazil virus.
- Sputnik V vaccine has been given emergency use authorization in India. In India, the Russian vaccine will be produced by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. A recent study found no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V.
- India will produce 850 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine every year.
- In terms of efficacy, Sputnik V outshines both Covishield and Covaxin with 91.6 % effectiveness compared to Covishield’s nearly 90% (global reports) and Covaxin’s 81% (interim 3rd phase trial results).
- Bharat Biotech will increase the production of Covaxin to 12 million doses a month.
- Sputnik will be the third vaccine to be used in India against coronavirus and will be delivered to India this month. The volume of Sputnik V vaccine production in India will be gradually increasing and may surpass 50 million doses per month.
- All the vaccine producers must sell 50% of their stock to the states through the free market. The remaining 50% will go to the central government.
- Now that all vaccines will be available in the open market, the vaccine manufacturers will also be able to decide the price of each dose of vaccine depending on demand and supply.
- The risk of contracting COVID after 2 doses of Covaxin or Covishield is minuscule. A study has found 0.03% of people caught COVID after the 2nd dose of Covishield and 0.04% tested positive after the 2nd dose of Covaxin.
- Lactating women can also take the vaccine.
While Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V come with their own pros and cons, there is no one better than the other. All are equally safe to use and have been recommended only after careful consideration by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). In light of the present situation, what matters the most is being inoculated against the coronavirus, irrespective of which vaccine has been administered. Moreover, the Indian government hasn’t given its citizens the choice to select which vaccine jab they want to be given. So the best way forward is simply to register yourself and get vaccinated as soon as possible, regardless of Covishield, Covaxin or Sputnik V.