Health experts say vaccination can speed up the fight against coronavirus

Witnessing the appalling situation in India with the shortage of medical resources and the increasing number of deaths, people have started to panic immensely and this has even created a situation where people doubt the efficacy of the vaccines available in the country.

At this time, health experts have come out and said that taking vaccines is the way ahead.

India has two fully functional Covid-19 vaccines, Bharat Biotech-ICMR manufactured COVAXIN, and Serum Institute of India (SII) produced COVISHIELD. The drug regulatory body has also approved the emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V in India.

Along with this, the central government has fast-tracked emergency approvals for foreign-produced Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in other countries to expand the basket of vaccines for domestic use and hasten the pace and coverage of vaccination.

Public Health researcher and policy analyst at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, US, Parnali Dhar Chowdhary assures that there is no need to panic as India-made vaccines are effective.

Speaking in a panel discussion organized by Republic World, Chowdhary said, “Made in India vaccines are good and now opening for 18+ in India. Covaxin has an efficacy of 78 percent for normal symptoms and 100 percent for severe symptoms as per what they have said. If we rely on this data, it is not bad and it can cover the UK variant of Covid-19 as well. If Covaxin can increase their production to around 6 crore per month as well as SII increasing the production to 10 crore per month, it is a good combination.”

She further said that Sputnik V data also shows reliable efficacy, so towards the end of the year, the situation will improve in India tremendously.

Similar viewpoint was shared by former Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) VM Katoch. In an interview with India News Network, he had said that there is no need to worry as both Covaxin and Covishield are safe.

“Covaxin is produced from a strain isolated in India by an old known method, whereas Covishield is slightly a newer generation approach. Both are safe in the immediate short term. We don’t know about the long term side effects if any. That will be known as we gather more long term follow up data. There is no reason to worry about it. But we must monitor the progress closely, keep on sharing the information with people on a regular basis and take remedial measures if there is any serious problem,” Katoch had said in an interview in January.

In a recent interview, he also assured that Sputnik V will prove to be beneficial for the country.

“Sputnik vaccine has already been used extensively. I am sure that our regulator will assess the relevant safety and efficacy issues. We have established procedures to monitor the phase IV of introduction in the community,” he said responding to the question sent by INN via email in April.

Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences Shiv Kumar Sarin has also said that India is ready in its fight against Covid-19 as both Covaxin and Covishield along with Sputnik V are very useful as they can be stored at higher temperature than foreign made vaccines, making them highly suitable for India and the cold-storage chain we have right now. He was speaking in a panel discussion organized by India Today in December 2020.

As vaccination is opening for 18+ years old in India on May 1, experts recommend that it is the way out and everyone should get vaccinated to reduce the risk of hospitalization.

“As many experts are saying, there is no need to panic very much. I would like to add that with every vaccine, if we look at vaccines in the US as well, only 7 percent hospitalizations are happening after two doses are done. It will minimize the risk, so there is no need to panic,” Chowdhary said in the panel discussion.