New Delhi, January 13: As critics continue to raise doubts about the reliability of an indigenously developed coronavirus vaccine which is still in the third phase of trial, a top Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist on Wednesday said that Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech) is safe and there should not be an iota of apprehension about its safety. He called for people to dispel the myths and misconceptions around Covid-19 vaccines.
“The vaccine that India has developed (Covaxin) presents to the immune system a wide array of antigens, so the immunity which will be produced after vaccination is expected to address the mutants as well,” Dr Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases division, ICMR, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Speaking about the speed at which the vaccines have been developed, Dr Panda said, “In older days, it would take 20-30 years to get a vaccine or medicine out in the market. Given the knowledge about the whole genome of the virus, the vaccine (Coviaxin) has come out within 10-12 months, which underlines the superiority, ability and commitment of Indian scientists.”
His remarks come in the backdrop of the health ministry saying the recipients will not get to choose which vaccine they want to be administered to them. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that there will be a gap of 28 days between two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and its effectiveness can be seen only after 14 days.
Earlier in the day, Congress MP Manish Tewari said that the government should not roll out Covaxin, developed by Hyderabad-based pharma firm Bharat Biotech, till its efficacy and reliability is completely established and phase 3 trials are over.
The ICMR scientist told ANI that the Indian program has taken a smart vaccination approach, rather than mass vaccination approach. “Herd immunity produced by vaccination is a good idea but when the virus mutates, immunity might not be working against it even if it is a drift,” he said.
India’s vaccination drive is set to begin on January 16, for which a total of 11 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine produced at Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, have been delivered across the country, according to Serum officials. Bharat Biotech has also shipped its vaccine Covaxin to several cities. (Agencies)