India gets ready to be vaccinated.

India gets ready to be vaccinated.

Let’s not worry too much, says IMA chief on safety & efficacy of Covid vaccines

2.5 lakh Covid vax doses reach Rajiv Gandhi Hospital in Delhi

Agency Report | New Delhi | 12 January, 2021 | 07:00 PM

Amid the ongoing debate around the safety and efficacy aspects of Covid vaccines, the president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) advises the public to not worry too much about it.

Dr JA Jayalal, president, IMA said, “We should not be too worried about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines since enough evidence is available to prove its credibility.

“The vaccines are never 100 per cent protective and efficacious at any time. It helps us to some extent in getting ahead of the disease but eventually, herd immunity will set in to control the viral spread. So let’s not worry too much about the safety and efficacy part,” he said.

“What we know from the trials is that the vaccines approved for inoculation in India are found safe and elicit an immune response. The technology of harnessing vaccines from inactivated viruses is a proven science. Our least expected efficacy criteria is 50 per cent while at the same time, other drugs we have been using for years are even below this benchmark of efficacy. We use influenza and vaccines against Tuberculosis but still people contract it,” Jayalal explained.

“Even natural infection cannot determine the level of antibodies it would create in the body. Some may develop less antibodies, some may exhibit high titers of it while a few may never develop at all. Good thing is that the vaccines are producing antibodies and it’s enough at this stage,” he added.

Jayalal also said that the vaccine would work against the current and mutant strains of the coronavirus. Such claim was earlier made by Bharat Biotech for its Covid vaccine, Covaxin, which is approved for restricted emergency use in a clinical trial mode’. However, the firm is yet to present the data confirming its claim.

The apex association of modern medicine practitioners in the country has come out publicly endorsing the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. In a statement issued on Monday, it said that the association stands with the scientists to endorse the safety and efficacy of both Covaxin and Covishield for public awareness and to counter myths on vaccine percolating in social media.

The IMA has also appealed to its 3.5 lakh members in 1,800 local branches to actively take part in the mission of Covid vaccination programme rolled out by the Government of India. “Come out to get vaccinated first to show to the world that these vaccines are safe and efficacious,” it had said.

Despite the efficacy of both the vaccines still unknown, the IMA has endorsed the vaccines. When asked about it, Jayalal said the association had a detailed discussion on such aspects with the government agencies. “After analyzing all the scientific data, we have decided to come out firmly in support of the vaccines,” he added.

India’s drug regulator has approved two Covid vaccine candidates — Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech — for the massive inoculation drive against the Covid-19.

The immunization drive will start from January 16. The vaccines have already reached many of the primary hubs to be distributed further before the roll-out.

Till now, a total 1,51,327 people have succumbed to the deadly disease while it has infected 1,04,79,179 people in the country.
Meanwhile, a consignment carrying around 2.5 lakh doses of the ‘Covishield’ vaccine landed at the national capital’s IGI Airport on Tuesday and is slated to reach Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH), Delhi’s only vaccine storage facility.

This is the first consignment of ‘Covishield’ vaccine which arrived at Indira Gandhi international Airport (IGIA) on Tuesday morning. The consignment from Pune to Delhi consists of 34 boxes and weighs 1,088 kgs. The doses will be transported in a special vehicle under heavy security to the RGSSH.

The Delhi government-run RGSSH is among the key Covid-19 facilities in the national capital, which is also doubling up as a vaccine storage house. The hospital has undergone robust preparations for the storage of vaccines, which will first be used to inoculate around 3 lakh health workers in Delhi before other priority groups are immunised.

The officials informed that the vaccines will be stored at a three-storey building in an area of 4,700 square feet, located in a relatively secluded corner of the campus, that will serve as the nerve centre of the vaccine storage exercise. Ahead of the arrival of the doses, the facility was taken over by the Delhi government’s directorate of family welfare and restricted for public entry.

The officials said that even the hospital staff are not allowed to enter the building without permission from the government.

The officials involved in the process said that the vaccines would be stored on the ground floor and first floor of the facility while the third floor will be used to keep the syringes and other essentials required during the vaccination.

A total of 90 deep freeze refrigerators have been installed there to store the vaccines in a temperature range of 2-8 degrees Celsius.

The Delhi government has chosen 89 sites in the national capital, including government and private hospitals, for the first phase of the immunisation drive meant for healthcare workers.

AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, LNJP Hospital, GTB Hospital, Apollo Hospital and Max Hospital will be among the vaccination centres here.

The aviation ministry informed earlier in the day that 9 flights from Pune carrying 56.5 lakh doses will be operated to 13 locations across the country on Tuesday. The locations include Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved two vaccines – Covishield by Pune-based SII and Covaxin by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited – for emergency use authorisation (EUA) against Covid-19 in the country. (IANS)