Vaccination is a necessity but for a vaccine clouded with issues, is it worth the risk?
By Laishram Niteshwor Singh
Now that effective vaccines for COVID-19 have been developed and are being given to members of the public and vaccination drive supported by not only medical experts, politicians and media, but also by different personalities of different walks of life. We can easily understand why vaccination is needed to get back a somewhat normal life despite arguments against the campaign.
As COVIDSHIELD and COVAXIN are developed in India and other vaccines like Sputnik-V and Moderna are imported, access to the vaccine is relatively easy for most. Various organizations are also giving a helping hand, to ensure the vaccine reaches even in the most isolated and far off areas.
Even with all these efforts, it is not surprising to see that only a fraction of the population is vaccinated. This of course is due to how large the population is and how fast the vaccine is being produced, along with various rumors and issues being spread among the public about the vaccines, either through social media or from influential personalities.
COVAXIN has garnered most of the attention among all the vaccines currently available, as it is still not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) because of insufficient information to grant approval to its emergency use authorization request, its efficacy being lower than most vaccines available (at 78%) and delay in releasing the phase 3 clinical trial findings.
This coupled with its delay in supply and issues surrounding the ownership of the Intellectual Property (IP), has gained much criticism and investigation towards Bharat Biotech Ltd (BBIL) by The Union Ministry of health and family welfare and Indian Council for Medical research (ICMR).
Bharat Biotech is said to have supplied 2.8 crore doses to the union government till June 12. That figure is only a fraction of the 8 crore dose purchase order the Centre has placed, according to the government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court. It is still not clear whether the Hyderabad-based company will meet the target of 40 crore doses it is expected to deliver between August and December, based on government’s projected availability of vaccines.
With various countries restricting passengers vaccinated with Covaxin, Students are particularly worried, with fall semester beginning in August. But beyond the immediacy, even those who have already got the Covaxin shots are worried if it would jeopardize their international travel plans. Even with such restrictions by WHO, The Union government stated that it respects the decision but asserted it will have no impact whatsoever on India’s vaccination drive.
There has been no new information on production or research on vaccines more effective towards the delta variant. But with the decrease of efficacy with each mutative variant, it begs the question, if Covaxin will still be effective later on? Even with a boost on production and the Government pushing the vaccination drive it can be easily seen why many would opt for other vaccines.
(The writer is a final year student of MA Mass Communication, Manipur University)