The Government of India has a plan to vaccinate all Indians by the end of this year. But with the slow pace, shortage of doses and vaccine hesitancy, the plans seems too ambitious. Still, the vaccination drives have been ramped up across the country and there are more vaccines available for use now. Apart from the two homegrown vaccines for the coronavirus, Covishield and Covaxin, Russia's Sputnik V has also been approved for use.
The availability of different vaccines will offer people a wider choice but will also add to the speculation regarding the difference between the efficacies of these vaccines, giving rise to Sputnik V vs Covaxin vs Covishield arguments.
Why are there so many vaccines?
In India, a country of more than 136 crore people, approximately 10 crore people have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Although this figure is quite big and was achieved at a faster rate than many developed nations, it still isn’t fast enough.
Vaccine supply and production have also affected the vaccination drives with companies not being able to produce doses at the required rate. To lower the burden on the two vaccines, the Government of India approved the use of a third COVID-19 vaccine during the deadly second wave in the country. Russia’s Sputnik V is considered safe and is like the Covishield vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines in India have attracted a lot of debate on their efficiencies and it is important to understand them better.
Covishield vs Covaxin vs Sputnik V
If you are also confused between Covishield vs Covaxin vs Sputnik V, then here’s a quick guide for you.
Covishield is one of the most widely used vaccines in India. It is being developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford and being manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, Pune. The vaccine is based on the viral vector platform, made from a weakened version of a common cold virus from chimpanzees.
• How It Works
The vaccine prompts the human immune system to start making antibodies and give it the strength to attack any coronavirus infection. As per the GOI, the interval between the first and second doses of Covishield is from 4 to 8 weeks. It has a shelf life of 9 months at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius.
Covishield vaccine has a 70% efficacy rate, as per the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). In all likelihood, the vaccine performs effectively against the strains in India. Covishield works effectively against the UK strain and is being tested against the Brazilian variant.
• Risks Involved
Common side effects include: pain, redness, itching, feeling unwell, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, nausea, etc. in mild to moderate conditions were recorded. 1 in 100 people experience uncommon symptoms such as abdominal pain, decreased appetite and excessive sweating.
Covaxin is the second vaccine that helped India in the fight against coronavirus during the early days. It is an indigenous vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech. It is an inactivated vaccine that contains the dead virus, which triggers the immune response but does not make the person sick.
• How It Works
Covaxin is made up of killed coronaviruses, making it safe to be injected into the human body. The body's immune cells can still recognise the dead virus, prompting the immune system to make antibodies against the novel coronavirus. The vaccine requires two doses given 28 days apart and can be stored at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius for 24 months.
Covaxin has an efficacy between 70%-90%. The vaccine can induce antibodies that can neutralize the UK strain and other severe strains.
• Risks Involved
Some common side effects experienced by people after getting a jab of Covaxin are: pain, injection site swelling, injection site redness, injection site itching, stiffness in the upper arm, weakness in the injection arm, body ache, headache, fever, malaise, weakness, rashes, nausea, vomiting.
The Sputnik V is a Russian vaccine that has recently received the authorisation to be used in India against COVID-19. It was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and was among the first vaccines in the world. Similar to Covishield, Sputnik V is also a vector vaccine.
• How It Works
The vaccine uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body. The virus has the ability to replicate or multiply, which when injected into the human body, triggers an immune response to the coronavirus spike proteins. The vaccine requires the two doses to be administered 28 days apart and stays stable at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
Sputnik V gives around 92% protection against coronavirus. Sputnik is a great option against the mutations of the virus as it uses two totally different shots. Sputnik vs Covaxin vs Covishield efficacy rates indicates that the theoretical efficacy of the Sputnik vaccine is the highest.
• Risks Involved
Sputnik, too, has short-term side effects such as pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms including fever, weakness, fatigue, and headache. Adverse events, however, were not identified as part of the research. Sputnik vs Covishield vs Covaxin side effects indicate that common side-effects remain more or less the same with the dose of each of the 3 vaccines.
Difference between Sputnik V, Covaxin and Covishield
If you are thinking about which is better, Covaxin vs Covishield vs Sputnik V, then the short answer is all 3 of them. All 3 vaccines are different in terms of their origin and working, yes, but all have been developed to help us fight the virus. Although there are minute differences between their efficacies when we take any one of them, the end result is to build your immunity against the coronavirus. The Covaxin vs Covishield vaccine debate should not stop us from getting vaccinated just because the one we want, out of interest, is not available.
Finally, the most important thing is that we vaccinate ourselves and those around us, instead of engaging in the unnecessary Sputnik vs Covishield vs Covaxin difference debate. We should get jabbed at the first possible instance with whichever vaccine available as all the 3 have shown encouraging results.
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