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Healthcare workers feel used as ‘guinea pigs’, hesitate to take Covaxin: Report

According to a survey, some healthcare workers had a general feeling that they were being used as “guinea pigs” by administering Covaxin.

January 22, 2021 / 10:04 AM IST
Bharat Biotech's Covaxin was granted restricted emegency use approval in 'clinical trial mode' on January 2.

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin was granted restricted emegency use approval in 'clinical trial mode' on January 2.


India has launched the world’s biggest vaccination drive while approving two COVID-19 vaccines - Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) -- for emergency use in the country.

However, many vaccine recipients are hesitant to roll up their sleeves for a jab of the indigenously-developed Covaxin, which received the approval for emergency use when it was still under "clinical trial mode", says a survey report by The Times of India.

According to the TOI survey, some healthcare workers had a general feeling that they were being used as “guinea pigs” by administering Covaxin.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

The survey, conducted in six cities, further says that nowhere the percentage of healthcare workers going for the Covaxin reached 50 percent.

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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.

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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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Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the vaccination drive with healthcare workers at the frontline of India's COVID-19 battle getting their first jabs on January 16.

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Till January 19, Patna and Jaipur clocked the highest percentage of healthcare workers going for the Covaxin shot (49) while Mumbai and Delhi were at 31 percent and 33 percent, respectively, said the report.

“There is some hesitancy in taking Covaxin. We have seen some outright refusal too,” Dr Lalit Sankhe, nodal officer for Covaxin at Mumbai’s Sir JJ Hospital, told the publication.

Sir JJ Hospital is the only centre in Mumbai with Covaxin.

 

In Delhi, there was a “little higher hesitancy for Covaxin due to lack of efficacy data,” said the report citing doctors.

In the national capital, Covaxin is being administered in six central government-run hospitals while Covishield is being given in all state-run and private hospitals. This has led to confusion and dissatisfaction among healthcare workers, the report suggested.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 22, 2021 09:59 am

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