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What you need to know about India’s Covaxin

Zimbabwe yesterday received the first consignment of 35 000 Indian Covaxin Covid-19 vaccines which will soon be administered to the public along with the Sinopharm and Sinovac doses already being rolled out. Here are some facts you might want to know about the vaccine:

How effective is it?

Bharat Biotech’s frontrunner Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin is one of the two vaccines being administered in the country and parts of the world. While the vaccine was found to be safer for use, at par with other vaccines, the short timeline and restricted authorisation nod made many doubt its efficacy. However, newer studies have proved that Covaxin has better than ever safety and efficacy rates.

How safe is Covaxin right now?

Interim studies have established Covaxin to have 81 percent efficacy rate, which is in line with many other vaccines being put in use right now. Again, while most vaccines have been labelled safer for use, it has been observed that Covaxin, a traditional vaccine had lower odds of causing disturbing or serious side-effects. Covaxin is also one of the only vaccines to have begun clinical testing on younger age groups.

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Can it cause adverse reactions?

As per the analysis, randomised, double-blind, phase II trials that evaluated the working of Covaxin on healthy people aged between 12 and 65 did not find any concerning side-effects or life-threatening complications to be associated with inoculation of the vaccine. The only adverse reactions to be noted in the vaccine drives were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and mild fever.

 

It was also observed that there were no sizeable immunological differences between men and women, which has been strangely been observed with other vaccines. This implies that women may have similar outcomes to men when it comes to vaccination side-effects.

As per a recently published report in a Lancet study, Covaxin is completely safe for use and offers a higher efficacy rate than what was previously seen. The news has not just compelled authorities to waive off clinical trial nod, but, as many believe will also lower some hesitancy circling around the usage of the desi vaccine.

We discuss in detail the many benefits of Covaxin and its efficacy rates, compared to other vaccines.

Findings of the Lancet study

According to a reviewed study published in the Lancet Journal of Infectious Diseases, the phase II trial results of Covaxin, which has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and ICMR showcased better safety and reactogenicity odds, crucial for vaccine usage in comparison to the phase I study.

The Lancet study follows up interim results published by Bharat Biotech pertaining to the phase III clinical testing last week (March 04).

The findings, which haven’t been peer-reviewed or published yet saw that the vaccine carried an efficacy rate as high as 81%. The results come from a survey of 25 800 volunteers, who did not have prior experience of COVID-19 and given two-dose jabs.

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What does it mean for vaccine beneficiaries?

The positive results and high immunogenicity findings have made medical authorities review the vaccine’s application.

The nod, as many believe would also allow Bharat Biotech to market the vaccine without the tag of being in ‘clinical trial’ mode, allowing for probably easier acceptance and lowering hesitancy rates in India.

The removal of the tag would mark the vaccine safer than before, and also mean that any beneficiaries getting the vaccine dose right now won’t be subject to frequent follow-ups, checks.

Can it garner better immunity?

Whether or not Covaxin fares better than other vaccines, or is capable of mounting a better immuno-response is subject to trials and analysis. However, from what has been seen, Covaxin is capable of heightening antibody response for up to several weeks after initial vaccination, which may mean that it can dole out better immuno-response right now.

As per the Lancet analysis, Covaxin was able to induce high neutralizing antibodies that remained stable for all participants three months after administrating the two-dose regime.

Will it work against the newer coronavirus variants?

Right now, while millions have been successfully vaccinated, the looming fear, whether or not the current vaccines would be able to prevent infection from the new variants is yet to be established.

However, Covaxin’s recent published studies may give the company an edge over the others.

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As per studies, Covaxin carries a good ability to effectively neutralize the UK variant strain of the SARS-COV-2 virus, considered to be the deadliest and most infectious one yet.

If the vaccine, is indeed found to be fully effective, it can find greater acceptance and may be used at a larger scale against the virus which is causing a repeat surge.

How Covaxin could be more effective against virus variants

As per the ICMR, there is also preliminary evidence to suggest that Covaxin may also be equally effective against the Brazilian and South African variants of the virus.

Many experts opine that not only does Covaxin come backed with a traditional approach that has been proven to work, the one way the vaccine may be better than others is because of its make — which may also help guarantee better prevention odds against the vaccine.

In an interview with TOI, Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, former chief epidemiologist to ICMR explained, “Covaxin is a whole-virion inactivated coronavirus vaccine; it uses the entire inactivated virus particle. Many other vaccines use only the spike protein to produce an immune response. The virus has multiple components, spike protein is just one of them.” — TimesofIndia.com

HERALD