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COVID-19 Vaccine | Government panel to study whether single-dose Covishield provides enough immunity: Report

The vaccines based on single-dose regimen could allow India to expand its immunisation programme coverage in a shorter period of time.

May 31, 2021 / 07:34 PM IST
A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

A government panel has been constituted to conduct a mix-and-match trial of vaccines, including study whether a single-dose Covishield - the vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) - can provide enough immunity against COVID-19, a report said on May 31.

The CNN-News 18 report, which cited a government official, claimed that the study would begin in around a month, and could be factored by the government if it decides to rejig the vaccination strategy.

“We are waiting for clearances from the National Ethics Committee (under the health ministry) …to begin studies on both — mix and match of two different vaccine doses as well as a single shot of Covishield,” the news channel quoted the official as saying.

The three vaccines granted regulatory clearance for emergency use in India so far - Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V - are based on the two-dose regimen.

Dr Reddy's Laboratories, a local pharmaceutical firm, is in talks with the government to procure Sputnik Light - a single-dose variant of the Sputnik V vaccine, Reuters reported earlier in the day.

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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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Also Read | Can the single dose Sputnik Light COVID-19 jab be a game changer for India?

The vaccines based on single-dose regimen could allow India to expand its immunisation programme coverage in a shorter period of time. Due to the shortage of doses, the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group has been restricted, as several state governments are prioritising the second doses for the 45-plus age group.

British-Swedish vaccine make AstraZeneca, whose jab locally produced in India is known as Covishield, had claimed in February that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, with no severe cases and no hospitalisations, "more than 22 days after the first dose".

The conclusion was drawn after a primary analysis of Phase III clinical trials, AstraZeneca had claimed. "Results demonstrated vaccine efficacy of 76% (CI: 59% to 86%) after a first dose, with protection maintained to the second dose," it added.

A study is expected to determine whether the immunity generated through the single dose of the vaccine can be sustained for an adequate period of time.

According to the CNN News 18 report, the Indian government's study on Covishield would also explore the possibility of a booster dose - that could be administered among the beneficiaries after six or 12 months of their first dose.



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first published: May 31, 2021 07:00 pm
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