COVID-19 vaccine: Keeping the options open!

Conversation on what happens once you get the vaccine by Dr Gajendra Singh, Public Health Expert

About Author: Dr Gajendra Singh is a Public Health Specialist with 15 years of diverse experience in Health System Strengthening in Program Management (Immunization, Maternal & Child Health, Family Planning, Reproductive Health). He has worked in many reputed international public health organizations.

          With the increase in COVID cases in some regions, challenges and complexities to manage the virus are surfacing again. Different COVID-19 vaccine candidates are a key point of conversation and debate since the vaccination started across different parts of the world. The research community is keeping an eye on the effects a candidate is having after getting the vaccine.
Several European countries, this week, briefly halted the use of the vaccine over fears of blood clots, which was reported 37 times among the 17 million inoculated with the vaccine. Countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland have decided to keep the vaccine on hold until more research is done.
Recently, two teams of medical researchers in Norway and Germany have independently found that the AZ vaccine could trigger an autoimmune reaction, explaining the isolated cases of blood clotting in the brain as reported in Europe.
The temporary halt and the hesitancy resulted from this vaccine, will cause people to rethink that how informed one should be about the vaccine candidates in their country.
It’s good to look at the notable features of other vaccine candidates which are either approved or are in the process of seeking medical approvals in India.
Covaxin, India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine candidate, has no serious adverse effects. T-cell and B-cell immunity generated from the vaccine “may persist until at least 6-12 months after the second vaccination dose.” It is an inactivated vaccine, made up of killed coronaviruses, making it safe to be injected into the body.
Sputnik V is a two-vector vaccine against coronavirus. Efficacy of Sputnik V is 91.6% as confirmed by the data published in the Lancet, world’s most respected medical journal; it is one of only three vaccines in the world with efficacy of over 90%; Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19. The safety, efficacy and lack of negative long-term effects of adenoviral vaccines is already proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades. There are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V.
The other candidates which are in different stages of trials in India to test safety and efficacy include ZyCov-Di and HGCO19. ZyCov-Di is developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus-Cadila, a vaccine being developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E, the first Indian private vaccine-making company, in collaboration with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine, and HGCO19 is  India’s first mRNA vaccine made by Pune-based Genova in collaboration with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation, using bits of genetic code to cause an immune response.
India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has become one of the biggest producers of the Sputnik V shot outside Russia. Other countries producing it include Brazil, China, and South Korea. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, which has run small clinical studies of Sputnik V in India, sought emergency-use approval for the vaccine last month.
Safety would be the most crucial aspect of vaccine approval as well as subsequent administration. Therefore, even if a country needs to go beyond its geography to find a suitable vaccine for its residents, it is imperative that they do so.

*Views expressed by the author are his own.