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How to identify fake COVID-19 vaccines? Centre issues guidelines

The Union Health Ministry shared a list of parameters with the states and Union territories to identify the authentic versions of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V vaccines.

September 05, 2021 / 04:40 PM IST
(Representative image: Reuters)

(Representative image: Reuters)


Amid warning issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) over the sale of counterfeit doses of Covishield vaccine in South-east Asia and Africa, the Centre has issued a list of guidelines to identify the fake COVID-19 vaccines.

The Union Health Ministry, on September 5, shared a list of parameters with the states and Union territories to identify the authentic versions of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V -- the three vaccines being currently used for the mass inoculation drive in India.

Also Read | Over 68 crore Covid vaccine doses administered in India so far: Govt

Here are the parameters to check whether Covishield vaccine is authentic:

  • Label colour shade is dark green, as per approved art work while colour of the aluminium flip off seal is dark green.



  • Brand name with trademark is mentioned on the original vaccine



  • The lettering is printed in special white ink to be more clear and readable. The general trend is to keep white lettering in reverse and just print the solid color. The text font of the Generic name is in un-bold



  • The SII logo is printed at a unique angle and position which can be only identified by a select few who are aware of the exact details



  • The entire label has been given a special texture honeycomb effect which is visible only at a specific angle. To make it foolproof, the honeycomb design has also been altered slightly at certain strategic locations.


Parameters to check the authenticity of Covaxin:

  • Invisible UV helix on label which is only visible under UV light



  • Micro Text hidden in label claims Dots, which is written as Covaxin



  • Holographic effect has been given on Covaxin.


Parameters to check the authenticity of Sputnik V:

  • Imported products are from two different bulk manufacturing sites from Russia and hence, there are two different labels for both these sites. While all the information and design is the same, only the manufacturer name is different



  • For all the imported products till now, the English label is only available on the front and back of the carton of 5 ampoule pack while for all other sides, including the primary label on the ampoule, is in Russian.

The guidelines come nearly a month after Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the government is probing the claims of duplicate Covishield vaccines being allegedly sold by criminal elements.

“It has been claimed that duplicate versions of the Covishield vaccine were sold in the country. The Indian government is probing this claim and will take action if it found any substance to the allegations," Mandaviya had said.

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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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Notably, the authentic vials of Covishield -- the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine -- is being manufactured and sold by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Covaxin is being manufactured and sold by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited, whereas, Russian-made Sputnik V is being procured and supplied by its registered domestic pharmaceutical partners including Dr Reddy's Laboratories.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Sep 5, 2021 04:40 pm

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