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COVID-19 vaccination: People should not hesitate to get jabs; no plan to sell vaccine in open market: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Addressing a media briefing on March 1, health minister Harsh Vardhan appreciated the contribution of scientists who were involved in making COVID-19 vaccines and said all efforts have been taken to 'remove vaccine hesitancy'.

March 01, 2021 / 09:26 PM IST
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo).

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo).

As day one of the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive draws to an end, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan has asked people to get rid of vaccine hesitancy, especially about Covaxin.

"With PM (Narendra) Modi taking Covaxin, all doubts about safety should vanish. People should take the vaccine without hesitancy", he said.

Addressing a media briefing on March 1, the minister appreciated the contribution of scientists who were involved in making the vaccines, and said all efforts have been taken to "remove vaccine hesitancy".

He informed that till February 28, 1.35 crore COVID-19 vaccine shots had been given to healthcare workers.

He further added that the government will scale up vaccination drive exponentially now, with the targetted groups being much bigger.

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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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Talking about the vaccine itself, the minister assured that enough doses have been procured and there will be no shortage.

He also clarified that there is no plan for launching vaccines in the open market yet. He said there have not been any complaints about the price cap on the vaccines at private hospitals being Rs 250 per dose.

"There are 15-20 vaccines in various stages of development. There will be many more vaccines available in India as time passes," he added.

In his briefing, he also warned the public against rising COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country. He said the surge in COVID-19 cases, however, had nothing to do with any new strain.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: All you need to know about manufacturing and pricing

"We are constantly in touch with state governments where COVID-19 cases are surging. COVID appropriate behaviour is essential. States need to increase testing," he reiterated.

Earlier in the day, the health ministry had announced that by 1 pm itself, 1 million users had registered themselves on the Co-WIN portal www.cowin.gov.in.

In the second phase of vaccination, everyone above the age of 60 years and those over 45 years with comorbidities will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If they chose a government facility then the vaccine will be free. At private hospitals, a single dose of the vaccine will cost up to Rs 250.

The two vaccines being administered at the moment are - Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from Oxford/AstraZeneca being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

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