Mumbai: Not all first beneficiaries keen on first COVID-19 vaccine jab

While over seven lakh healthcare workers in the state have been registered for the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination, senior doctors in the city claim the actual turnout at vaccination booths may be much less. According to them, several healthcare workers have privately cited apprehensions about any future side effects. Not having the patience to stand in serpentine queues or claims that the COVID-19 graph has flattened already, are some other reasons being cited by many healthcare workers (HCWs), doctors claimed.

A senior doctor from a civic-run hospital claimed HCWs are apprehensive owing to inadequate local efficacy data. “It is good news that vaccines have been approved, but it’s too early to do so as there isn’t adequate local efficacy data. Many HCWs might give a second thought to taking the first dosage. Moreover, the clinical trials are underway on one of the vaccines and there is no evidence on how fruitful vaccines are for HCWs and the general public,” he said.

He further added that the genes and chromosomes of people vary from place to place following the vaccine side effect will also differ. Like if vaccines are someplace that shows 100 per cent efficacy rate then it might differ in India depending on the genomic structure. “Though COVIDSHIELD has 70 per cent efficacy still there is no transparency whether they have found the same efficiency in India too. Moreover, there is no scientific data related to vaccines,” officials said.

Meanwhile, some HCWs registered for the vaccination drive claimed the central government should have gained their trust and many of the registered public would avoid getting vaccinated after the start of the immunisation process as the recovery rate is more than 90 per cent than its better not take the vaccine. “We are not keen on taking the vaccine as the recovery rate of Mumbai is 93 per cent so there’s no point in taking the vaccine. Moreover, there are no studies or data available on vaccines which have been approved,” said another HCWs.

Officials from the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) said that it is a lot of information missing and many questions unanswered currently. "Concerning Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, we are extremely alarmed and shocked because it signifies the grant of regulatory approval without any efficacy data. The Phase 3 trials are currently ongoing and it is too early for data to meet the criterion for an interim analysis. The only human data available on safety and immunogenicity is on 755 participants in phase 1 & 2 trials. Other than this there are data from animal studies. This would amount to rolling out an untested and unproven vaccine to the public which raises concerns,” said All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN)’s co-convenor Malini Aisoli.

"The regulator has said that the approval is in “clinical trial mode” but no clarity has been provided on what that means. We would like to know if the vaccinated individuals would get the benefit of provisions in the law that apply to clinical trial participants such as compensation for adverse events," she added.

Dr Vikrant Shah, Infectious Disease Experts, however, said the vaccine is safe as it is a live attenuated vaccine that will reduce the risk of contracting the infection and boost immunity.

“I will be taking the vaccine as it will help control the spread of the virus in the community. Moreover, there is no harm in taking the vaccine as it has been approved after clearing all necessary tests by the DGCI. Healthcare workers will be getting the vaccine first, following which all questions raised about the vaccine will be answered,” he said.

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Free Press Journal