COVID-19 Vaccination in India, Covishield and Covaxin

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COVID-19 Vaccination in India, Covishield and Covaxin

In January 2021 India started National Vaccination programme against the SARS-CoV-2 virus which has caused the COVID-19 pandemic. The drive prioritises healthcare and frontline workers, and then those over the age of 60, and then those over the age of 45 and suffering from certain comorbidities.

In January 2021 Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres said that India's vaccine-production capacity is the best asset the world has. According to health officials, India has administered 2,30,08,733 vaccine doses across the country as of 8 March 2021.

COVID-19 vaccines with approval for emergency or conditional usage are:

1. Covishield

  • On 1 January 2021, the Drug Controller General of India, approved the emergency or conditional use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine AZD1222 (marketed as Covishield).
  • Covishield is developed by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech.
  • It's a viral vector vaccine based on replication-deficient Adenovirus that causes cold in Chimpanzees.
  • It can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (two-eight degrees Celsius/ 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit). It has a shelf-life of at least six months.

2. Covaxin

  • On 2 January 2021, BBV152 (marketed as Covaxin), first indigenous vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology received approval from the Drug Controller General of India for its emergency or conditional usage. However, this approval was met with some concern as the vaccine had not then completed phase-3 trials.
  • On 3 March 2021, Bharat Biotech announced that interim results of covaxin showed the 81% efficacy. Trail was conducted on the 25,800 people in India

Vaccination drive

  • The national vaccination drive began on 16 January 2021, across 3,006 vaccination centres.
  • Each vaccination centre will offer either Covishield or Covaxin, but not both. Some states have decided to use only Covishield as the "default option" and keep their Covaxin doses as a "buffer stock".
  • IMPORTANT: Since Covaxin has not completed phase-3 trials, those receiving it will need to sign a signed consent form.
  • On the first day (16 January), 1,65,714 people received the vaccination.
  • In the first three days, 6,31,417 people were vaccinated. Of these, 0.18% reported side-effects and nine people (0.002%) were admitted to hospitals for observation and treatment.

Vaccine on order

VaccineApproval progressDoses orderedApprovalDeployment
Oxford-AstraZenecaApproved for use500 million01 January 202116 January 2021
CovaxinApproved for use (Restricted)10 million01 January 202116 January 2021
NovavaxNot yet1 billionNot yetNot yet
ModernaNot yetNot yetNot yetNot yet
Sputnik VNot yet100 millionNot yetNot yet

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