New Delhi: India’s wait for COVID vaccine gets over as two vaccines for coronavirus – Oxford Institute’s Covishield, which is being developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, received emergency approval from the country’s drug regulator on January 3. “We’ll never approve anything if there is slightest of safety concern. The vaccines are 110 per cent safe,” Drug Controller General of India VG Somani said, adding Covishield was found to be 70.42 per cent effective and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was “safe and provides a robust immune response”.
A dry run to prepare for the rollout of COVID-vaccine has also been conducted by all the states and Union Territories in the country in the bid to kick-start the massive immunisation drive for coronavirus.
As India moves a step closer for immunisation programme for COVID-19, there are a lot of questions that are floating around in everyone’s mind when it comes to the safety, reactions from the coronavirus vaccine. NDTV speaks with experts – Dr Rajesh Malhotra, Chief of COVID medical facility at trauma centre, AIIMS and Dr Suneela Garg, Head & Director Professor, Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Med College & Associated Hospitals New Delhi India & also a member of Delhi COVID task force, to answer all vaccine related FAQs:
NDTV: Is The New Coronavirus Vaccine Safe?
Dr Rajesh Malhotra: Absolutely, the vaccines that have got the approval in India for treating coronavirus patient are safe. We have the sufficient data to say that the vaccines are safe for use and that’s why the vaccine has been delayed. You need to first test the vaccine on people and volunteers and show that it has got definite benefit and the side-affects from it are minimal or acceptable given the seriousness of the epidemic. So the risk-benefit ratio is strongly in favour of the benefit and that’s what drives the emergency use of the vaccine in the country.
NDTV: Does One Need To Take Precautions After Getting Vaccinated – Both The Dosage? How Long One Needs To Follow COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour Even After Getting Vaccination For Coronavirus?
Dr Suneela Garg: After taking the two prescribed dosage of vaccine, it is mandatory that one should follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour at least for 2-3 months. It is one of the important things, though after getting vaccinated, we tend to get antibodies in our bodies within 22-days’ time, but after getting the second dose, we get the optimum number of antibodies in the body that will eventually help in protecting against the highly infectious virus and that is why it is important that we continue to follow all the necessary COVID-19 norms like we were doing before.
NDTV: Can One Get Infected With The Virus Even After Getting Coronavirus Vaccine?
Dr Rajesh Malhotra: Yes, we cannot rule that possibility out. It can definitely occur if the body hasn’t had the time to up regulate its immune response to the virus. For example, it was said that after first dose of the vaccine, one tends to get antibodies in their system by the 21st or 22nd day. Now, if somebody gets exposed after the first dose in-between his/her first or 22nd day, then he/she is more prone to get the COVID infection or will get it anyways. Similarly, in the booster dose, the robust response is seen again after in two-three weeks of the second dose. However, the good news is that, if one gets the COVID infection in-between his/her coronavirus vaccine, it will work in their system as a booster dose and that will ensure that you are not seriously affected with the disease.
NDTV: Overall, Can The Vaccine Prevent COVID-19? Does COVID-19 Vaccine Means, People With Comorbidities Will Not Get Seriously Infected?
Dr Suneela Garg: Definitely, once we are giving the vaccine and that too in two doses, it will act as a protector against COVID-19. One dose will stimulate the production of antibodies and the second dose will help the person reach the optimal level of antibodies in his/her body. People with comorbidities or people in general, if get infected with COVID-19 after getting vaccinated, will see a milder effect of the virus in their body as that is the whole idea of the vaccination – to protect one from severe degree of the infection.
NDTV: When Do Antibodies Develop After Getting COVID-19 Vaccine?
Dr Rajesh Malhotra: The research has shown that if we take COVID-19 vaccine then after two-three weeks one starts to seeing the results with the production of antibodies. And with the booster dose, we can say it tends to show result in the fourth week. Therefore, it is advisable for people who will get vaccinated in the coming months, they need to take all the precautions very seriously for at least 6-8 weeks. They need to follow all the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and make sure they don’t contract the infection.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.