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1,000 doses of Covishield vaccine found 'frozen' in Assam, probe ordered

The 100 vials at SMCH were allegedly stored at sub-zero temperature, which led to the freezing of the vaccine doses.

January 19, 2021 / 10:21 PM IST
Both the vaccines approved in India, Covishield and Covaxin, are required to be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degree celsius. (Representative image: Reuters)

Both the vaccines approved in India, Covishield and Covaxin, are required to be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degree celsius. (Representative image: Reuters)

A total of 1,000 vaccine doses were found "frozen" in Cachar district of Assam, which compelled the State Health Department to launch a probe.

The case was reported at Silchar Medical College College Hospital (SMCH), one of the premier medical facilities based in the Barak Valley region.

The 100 vials which were found frozen cumulatively contained 1,000 doses of Covishield, the vaccine developed by Serum Institute of India.

Both the vaccines approved in India, Covishield and Covaxin, are required to be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degree celsius. The frozen vials at SMCH were allegedly stored at sub-zero temperature.

The Health Department officials have sent the frozen vaccine doses to a lab to ascertain their efficacy.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"The exact reason for that would be known only after a thorough probe, which has been ordered," Hindustan Times quoted Munindra Nath Ngatey, director, health services, as saying. Action could be taken against officials found negligent, he added.

Assam is set to receive a total of 380,000 doses, which would be used to inoculate 190,000 front-line workers of the state.

Till January 18, the health department had recorded the vaccination of 5,542 front-line workers. The turnout for vaccination has been hit due to a protest by a section of ASHA workers.

The Sadou Asom Asha Karmi Santha, which represents nearly 20,000 ASHA workers in the state, has demanded a hike in their wages, before receiving the vaccine shots.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 19, 2021 10:21 pm

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