As India kicks off its massive vaccination drive against the Covid-19 starting with its frontline workers, there are some apprehensions about adverse events. Much of the talks in this regard are political but there may be many who affected by this discourse who are left in doubt. In any case, the government is bound to address such queries and they have already done that. Let’s touch upon some facts in this regard.
Is There No Scope for Adverse Effect?
In any vaccination there are bound to be minor reactions in some cases. It is technically called an Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI). There are well-laid procedures to address this issue. To use this to cast aspersions on vaccine is wrong.
If So, Are there any Instances Outside India That Show Adverse Event?
Yes. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that is being administered in the US also has shown adverse events. Here is a report dated back to January 7, 2021.
So, How Do We Put AEFI into Perspective?
It is about how a nation achieves comparative success in vaccination. If the AEFI is low compared to per lakh or million population, then it should not really be considered a big issue.
What is India’s Record as of Now?
The government stated, as on January 20, 2021, 0.18 per cent have exhibited adverse events following immunisation. Adding to that, 0.002 per cent of them had to be hospitalised, which is fairly low.
-As per provisional data, total 7,86,842 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till date upto 06:00 pm
— #IndiaFightsCorona (@COVIDNewsByMIB) January 20, 2021
The Observation Methods with Regard to Covaxin and Covishield
The opinion one may often come across in social media is that it is fine with Covishield while there are apprehensions about Covaxin being at the phase 3 of the trial which got the emergency use approval.
Well, the administering and observation processes are different in both the vaccines as per the explanation of Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
Covaxin: “The vaccine (Covaxin) which has been given emergency use authorisation under clinical trial mode is accompanied by three documents. One is a factsheet which is read out and explained to beneficiaries, second is a consent form… and the third is an adverse event reporting form where the recipient has to report the adverse event for the first seven days. There it is clearly mentioned that if there is a causal relationship between immunisation and the adverse event whether it is severe or serious the hospitalisation costs would be borne by the authorities.”
Covishield: “It is that after taking the vaccine I sit for half an hour and I am observed. If there is nothing I go home. If I develop a symptom the onus is on me to come to the hospital and report it. Whereas in case of Covaxin it is active follow-up. The doctor rings you up on a daily basis and you are given a form which you fill for seven days.”
These facts should address the general concerns about the adverse effect after the vaccination. As far as political criticism is concerned, any amount of evidence will not satisfy them, as they are seemingly interested in scoring political points against the present government. Nevertheless, the neighbouring nations are already looking at Indian vaccines as their hope, the account you may read in detail in our article Vaccine Maitri Kicks-off: China Originated Virus Fought With a Made in India Vaccine.