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COVID-19 Vaccines And Dosage: WHO’s Soumya Swaminathan Answers FAQs On Vaccines

The second phase of the coronavirus vaccination drive in India will begin March 1, with priority given to people over 60 and those over 45 with co-morbidities

COVID-19 Vaccines And Dosage: WHO’s Soumya Swaminathan Answers FAQs On Vaccines
Highlights
  • It is important to take the second dose of a vaccine: Dr Swaminathan, WHO
  • Second dose can be taken a few days early or later from the schedule: WHO
  • No untoward event following vaccination has been reported so far: WHO

New Delhi: In the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, countries across the world have started vaccinating their citizens, healthcare workers and essential workers. India too kick started its vaccination drive on January 16 with Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The country has already vaccinated 1.26 crore healthcare and frontline workers and the second phase of the coronavirus vaccination drive will begin March 1, with priority given to people over 60 and those over 45 with co-morbidities. As the COVID-19 vaccination drive expands, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan answers key questions related to COVID-19 vaccines and dosage.

Also Read: Coronavirus Explained: All About The Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine, Covishield

As part of WHO’s conversations in science, Dr Swaminathan informed that multiple vaccines are being developed and every vaccine has a different dosing schedule. Majority of the vaccines currently being manufactured in the world are two dose vaccines and usually, the two doses are given at a gap of three to four weeks.

But there is some data from some vaccines like the AstraZeneca vaccine, where delaying the second dose up to 12 weeks actually gives a better immune boost, said Dr Swaminathan.

Further when asked what happens if someone delays or misses the second dose of the vaccine, Dr Swaminathan noted that it is important to take the second dose; it doesn’t matter if it’s early by a few days or late by a few days or even a couple of weeks.

It’s important to go back and get that second dose because the first dose actually presents this new antigen to the immune system to prime it. And the second dose is the one that really gives a boost to the immune system so that the antibody response, as well as T cell mediated response, they are very strong and they also develop a memory response, which then lasts for a long time, so that when the body sees this antigen again, this virus protein again, it knows that it needs to react quickly, explained Dr Swaminathan.

Also Read: COVID-19 Vaccine Explainer: How Do Vaccines Work?

In India, the two COVID-19 vaccines that have got the emergency use license are two dose vaccines and are given at a gap of 28 days. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommends taking the two doses of the same vaccine. The guideline is in line with WHO’s policy advice. Talking more about mixing the two vaccines, Dr Swaminathan said,

The science is changing and evolving and the knowledge base is growing. There are now clinical trials ongoing in some countries that are looking at interchangeability, which means the first dose with one vaccine and the second dose with a different vaccine, maybe even a different platform vaccine. And immunologically, there are reasons why this would make sense. However, at the present time, there isn’t enough data for us to recommend this type of interchangeable two dose schedules.

Also Read: Coronavirus Vaccine Glossary: 15 Terms To Know About Vaccination

Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?

Usually, it takes years to develop a vaccine that is both safe and efficacious as any new vaccine or drug has to go through multiple stages of trials. However, scientists across the world have developed vaccines against COVID-19 in a record time of less than a year. The speed with which vaccines have been manufactured often raises questions over their efficacy. Clearing all apprehensions, Dr Swaminathan detailed the regular vaccine development process and how it has been altered during a pandemic. She said,

Vaccine development is a complex process, and it goes through different phases, starting from animal studies, through the phases of clinical trials in humans. And the last phase, Phase III, is normally done in several thousand individuals, tens of thousands of individuals. Half are given the placebo, half are given the vaccine. They are followed up over a period of time, usually, it’s a couple of years and then we assess the efficacy and the safety of the vaccine. Now, because of the pandemic and the need to get these vaccines out quickly to save lives, the duration of follow up has been a couple of months rather than years, and emergency use authorisations have been given to these vaccines, which means that they are still under observation. There are still systems in place in countries that are following up people that are recording and reporting any serious adverse events or other events.

Dr Swaminathan informed that the WHO has a pharmacovigilance system under which adverse events are constantly monitored. She added that so far no untoward event resulting from vaccination has been reported but WHO will continue to be vigilant and as and when any evidence of a relationship between a vaccine and side effect is developed, countries will be informed.

Also Read: COVID-19 Vaccine Explained: What Is Placebo And Why Is It Used In Vaccine Trials?

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 (WaterSanitation 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 pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

26,78,24,983Cases
22,84,48,447Active
3,40,97,388Recovered
52,79,148Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,78,24,983 and 52,79,148 have died; 22,84,48,447 are active cases and 3,40,97,388 have recovered as on December 9, 2021 at 3:47 am.

India

3,46,66,241 9,419Cases
94,742 1,009Active
3,40,97,388 8,251Recovered
4,74,111 159Deaths
In India, there are 3,46,66,241 confirmed cases including 4,74,111 deaths. The number of active cases is 94,742 and 3,40,97,388 have recovered as on December 9, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,40,888 893

9,964 157

64,89,720 1,040

1,41,204 10

Kerala

51,78,892 5,038

41,615 887

50,95,263 4,039

42,014 112

Karnataka

29,99,098 399

7,284 155

29,53,565 238

38,249 6

Tamil Nadu

27,32,648 703

7,946 36

26,88,142 728

36,560 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,74,217 181

2,011 3

20,57,749 176

14,457 2

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,502 10

139 7

16,87,452 3

22,911

West Bengal

16,20,803 574

7,576 0

15,93,659 568

19,568 6

Delhi

14,41,514 65

404 28

14,16,010 36

25,100 1

Odisha

10,50,760 255

1,931 11

10,40,403 264

8,426 2

Chhattisgarh

10,07,075 37

341 9

9,93,140 27

13,594 1

Rajasthan

9,54,984 40

236 16

9,45,792 24

8,956

Gujarat

8,27,873 67

417 45

8,17,361 22

10,095

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,288 14

140 1

7,82,619 13

10,529

Haryana

7,71,904 29

223 15

7,61,626 14

10,055

Bihar

7,26,259 9

36 6

7,14,133 3

12,090

Telangana

6,77,546 205

3,871 19

6,69,673 185

4,002 1

Assam

6,18,042 134

2,541 24

6,09,374 158

6,127

Punjab

6,03,578 22

350 0

5,86,614 20

16,614 2

Jharkhand

3,49,383 16

129 7

3,44,113 23

5,141

Uttarakhand

3,44,402 17

192 3

3,36,799 14

7,411

Jammu And Kashmir

3,38,198 151

1,639 38

3,32,070 111

4,489 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,27,753 69

722 14

2,23,174 81

3,857 2

Goa

1,79,307 65

441 37

1,75,478 28

3,388

Mizoram

1,37,377 320

3,049 10

1,33,819 309

509 1

Puducherry

1,29,128 23

230 1

1,27,022 22

1,876

Manipur

1,25,429 23

325 5

1,23,119 28

1,985

Tripura

84,888 14

94 11

83,968 3

826

Meghalaya

84,631 12

240 11

82,916 23

1,475

Chandigarh

65,515 7

67 2

64,628 5

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,298 3

29 2

54,989 5

280

Sikkim

32,390 8

200 2

31,785 6

405

Nagaland

32,143 1

116 2

31,328 3

699

Ladakh

21,749 14

230 17

21,304 31

215

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

0 0

10,679

4

Lakshadweep

10,405

11 0

10,343

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,691 1

3 0

7,559 1

129

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