While Covishield is built on a viral vector vaccine platform and uses a weakened version of adenovirus, a common cold virus that causes infection in chimpanzees, Covaxin is built on an inactivated whole virus vaccine platform.
A GROUP of 18 people, who had “inadvertently received Covishield as the first jab and Covaxin as the second”, showed better immunogenicity — the ability to generate an immune response — than those who received two doses of the same vaccine, according to a new study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
In May, 18 villagers in Siddarthnagar, Uttar Pradesh, had received Covaxin as the second dose, six weeks after they got Covishield. The study compared their reaction to 40 recipients of two doses of Covishield and 40 recipients of two doses of Covaxin.
“We compared the safety and immunogenicity profile of them (the group of 18) against that of individuals receiving either Covishield or Covaxin. Lower and similar adverse events following immunisation in all three groups underlined the safety of the combination vaccine-regime,” said the study which is yet to be peer reviewed.
How Goes India’s Covid Vaccine Production? Here’s a Look at the Numbers
With Johnson and Johnson‘s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine getting approval for emergency use, India now has five vaccines to offer to its citizens. J&J’s vaccine becomes the fifth COVID-19 vaccine to be available in India after Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V, and Moderna. The Janssen vaccine was one of the early candidates to have been cleared by the US, and was said to have high efficacy at preventing hospitalisation and death in people.
Before Johnson & Johnson, India’s drug regulator DCGI had over a month ago granted permission to Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Cipla to import Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use in the country.
As India gets another vaccine added to its arsenal against the COVID-19, here’s a look at how many vaccines the country has received and what it can expect in the coming days:
Over 50.62 Crore Vaccine Doses Administered:
The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 50.62 crore on Saturday. Over 50 lakh doses were administered on Saturday. As on day 204 of the vaccination drive, a total of 50,00,384 vaccine doses was given of which 36,88,660 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 13,11,724 received the second dose of vaccine, according to the 7 pm provisional report of Union Health Ministry.
Cumulatively, 17,54,73,103 people in the age group of 18-44 years across all states and Union Territories have received their first dose and 1,18,08,368 their second dose since the start of phase three of the vaccination drive.
More than 52.37 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been provided to states and UTs so far and a further 8,99,260 doses are in the pipeline, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday. Over 2.42 crore balance and unutilised vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs and private hospitals to be administered, the ministry said.
Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen:
While the Johnson and Johnson received emergency use approval, there is uncertainity as to when the vaccine will be available in the country amid unresolved issues around indemnity against legal liabilities in case of severe adverse events. The government expects the supplies to start around September if they can come to an agreement with the company, the Times of India quoted an official saying.
India can expect an initial supply of around 3-5 crore doses a month. The company on Friday said that Indian vaccine maker Biological E will be an important part of its supply chain network.
On the timeline of deliveries, J&J, in a statement, said, “While we look forward to meeting our delivery commitments, it is premature for us to speculate on the timing of our vaccine deliveries."
From January 16 to August 5, 44.42 crore doses of Covishield were supplied by Serum Institute of India for the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply.
The monthly vaccine production capacity of Covishield is planned to be increased from 11 crore doses to more than 12 crore doses per month, the government said on August 6.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin:
From January 16 to August 5, 6.82 crore doses of Covaxin were supplied by Bharat Biotech for country’s inoculation drive. Going ahead, the monthly vaccine production capacity of Covaxin is planned to be increased from 2.5 crore doses to around 5.8 crore, the government has said.
The CDSCO has granted permission to Indian Immunological Limited, Hyderabad for manufacturing of Whole Virion Inactivated Corona Virus (COVAXIN) Bulk Vaccine on March 26 for examination, test and analysis purpose.
RDIF’s Sputnik V:
Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical Dr Reddy’s is in a pact with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to sell 250 million vials of Sputnik V in India. The first consignment of imported doses of Sputnik V landed in India on May 1, and received regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, on May 13.
Dr Reddy’s, which has tied up with RDIF for Sputnik V in India, soft launched the vaccine in India in May 2021, after receiving Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in April 2021.
On Thursday, Panacea Biotec said it has entered into a pact to produce up to 25 million doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine using the drug substance manufactured by pharma firm Generium in Russia.
The DCGI had, on June 29, granted permission to Mumbai-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla to import Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna, which received the drug regulator’s permission for restricted use of its vaccine in an emergency situation, in adults aged 18 years and older, has been demanding indemnity in India.
The US vaccine supplies haven’t materialised as indemnity or legal protection against any product liability claims arising out of unexpected serious adverse events has emerged as a sticky issue for India. Moderna along with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are insisting on the indemnity to supply vaccines to India.
Govt Expects 135 Crore Doses Between Aug-Dec:
The government will get 20 crore vaccine doses of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V in August and 25 crore doses in September. Further, the government expects vaccines of Biological-E, Zydus Cadila, Novavax and Gennova by October as the approvals from regulators could come through by then and some of these vaccine makers are already doing at-risk production of vaccines.
The government has previously said it has placed orders for supply of 100.6 crore doses up to December 2021. “Between August to December 2021, 135 crore doses are expected to be available,” the government said. The government has said that it was expected that beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021 but said no fixed timeline at present can be indicated for the completion of vaccination drive given the dynamic and evolving nature of the pandemic.
Out of the orders for 100.6 crore doses for Covid-19 vaccines, orders for 64.1 crore vaccines have been placed for Covishield and 36.5 crore for Covaxin. “A total of 3.84 crore doses of Covaxin from Order dated 5th May 2021 are still being delivered,” the government said, saying as on July 20, 2021.
Measures to Ramp Up Production:
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has been taking various steps for fast track approval of vaccines, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar has said. A system is in place for fast track processing of application for clinical trial and approval for Covid-19.
According to a CDSCO notice dated April 1, Covid vaccines already approved by CDSCO for restricted use in emergency situation in India, and proposed to be fill finished at a site within the country different from the manufacturing site, by receiving bulk of the approved vaccine, will be approved by CDSCO based on inspection and CDL release, Pawar said. Additionally, if such a vaccine is manufactured in India from basic drug substance stage to the fill-finish stage, it will also be given manufacturing licensee, based on inspection, for stock piling and CDL release.
Further, the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology has launched ‘Mission COVID Suraksha- the Indian Covid-19 Vaccine Development Mission’, under which facility augmentation of Bharat Biotech and one state public sector enterprise and two central public sector enterprises (PSEs) — Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai; Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL), Bulandshahr — for production of Covaxin have been supported.
In addition, technology transfer of Covaxin production to Gujarat Covid Vaccine Consortium (GCVC) has also been facilitated. Further, the Centre has also extended financial assistance to one of the domestic manufacturers for ‘At-risk manufacturing’, advance payment against the supply orders placed with Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, and streamlining of regulatory norms for approval of vaccines, the reply added.
Covid-19: Nearly 40 million beneficiaries did not get second vaccine shot within stipulated time, govt data shows
Nearly 40 million beneficiaries did not receive their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine within stipulated time, news agency PTI has reported citing the Union government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) query. Activist Raman Sharma had filed the RTI query seeking information from the central government in this regard.
“The total number of beneficiaries who got their first dose of Covishield but did not get their second within stipulated period of time as prescribed by the government as per the due report on the CoWIN portal is 34,072,993,” the Covid-19 vaccine administration cell of the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) said in response to Sharma’s query. The corresponding figures for Covaxin, meanwhile, stood at 4,678,406, as per the ministry’s response. Together, the numbers add up to 38,751,399.
The data provided to Sharma is according to figures as on August 17, 2021.
“It is recommended that the beneficiaries who received their first dose of vaccine get their second in the stipulated period. There is no recommendation for those who do not take their second dose within stipulated period as prescribed by the Government of India, to get their first dose again,” the Union health ministry further said, noting that the gap between two doses of Covishield should be 84 to 112 days, while that between two shots of Covaxin should be 28-42 days.
As per data available on the CoWIN portal, as of noon on Thursday, 442,285,854 beneficiaries had received their first dose, while 125,907,443 had taken both the doses.
The national vaccination drive against Covid-19 began on January 16 this year, days after Covishield and Covaxin received clearance from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). Since then, three other shots have also been approved. Thus far, Covaxin is India’s first and only home-made shot against Covid-19.
Over 34 million beneficiaries did not get their second Covishield dose within stipulated time, while the corresponding figure for Covaxin stood at more than 4.6 million.
Covid booster dose will definitely be recommended in India, says National Institute of Virology director
As the United States has okayed the booster dose of the Covid vaccine which will start rolling out from September, National Institute of Virology director Dr Priya Abraham said the booster dose will definitely be recommended in India in future. The official stand of the government regarding booster dose is that the issue is being closely studied.
In an interview with India Science, the OTT channel of the department of science and technology, Dr Abraham said, "Studies on booster dose have been going on overseas and at least seven different vaccines have been tried out for booster dose. Now, the WHO has put a stop to it till more countries catch up with vaccination. This is because there is an alarming vaccine gap between high-income and low-income countries. But, in future, recommendations for boosters will definitely come."
A booster dose is an additional dose to augment the antibody level which may lower after a certain period of time following the second dose of the vaccine. AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria earlier said that booster doses might become a necessity because of the emerging variants of the virus. The jury is out on whether this will be a yearly requirement or not or whether everybody will require a booster shot against Covid.
The World Health Organization has opposed booster doses at present as many poor countries are still without vaccines. WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan has recently said that available data do not indicate that boosters are needed.
In India, Pune's Serum Institute has reportedly administered booster doses to its employees. Chairman Cyrus Poonawalla himself has taken a booster dose, he has recently said. "After six months, the antibodies go down and that is why I have taken the third dose. We have given the third dose to our seven to eight thousand SII employees. For those who have completed the second dose, it is my request to take a booster dose (third dose) after six months," he said, as reported by news agency PTI.