Hubballi (Karnataka), Jan 19 | Allaying fears over the side-effects of Covaxin, Karnataka Health Minister K. Sudhakar on Tuesday defended the vaccine of from Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and said that it is safe for use.
“Covishield and Covaxin are equally safe for use. No need for any apprehension against Covaxin. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved both the vaccines for administering them to the beneficiaries,” Sudhakar told the media here.
Covishield is manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
Responding to concerns expressed by an association of government doctors on using Covaxin in six districts and Covishield in the remaining 24 districts across the state, Sudhakar said the Bharat Biotech vaccine was tested on over 30,000 volunteers during trials, the highest in the country.
“As analysing the data takes time, the regulator (DCGI) has given permission for its (Covaxin) emergency use only after satisfying itself of its efficacy,” Sudhakar, a medical doctor by profession, asserted.
The six districts in which Covaxin is being administered to the Covid warriors are Ballari, Chamarajanagar, Chikkamagalur, Davangere, Hassan and Shivamogga since January 16, when the vaccination drive was launched with much fanfare across the country.
Clarifying that no health worker would be forced to take the vaccine, as it is voluntary, the minister said Karnataka had the highest number of healthcare and frontline warriors (16 lakh) taking the vaccine in the country.
“We have 8,14,500 doses of vaccines for the first phase. The second dose will be given 28 days after the first shot. Senior citizens above 50 years and persons with comorbidities will be given the vaccine in the second phase,” said Sudhakar.
In a letter to Sudhakar, the association of house surgeons, post-graduates and super specialty residents of state-run medical and dental colleges said that resident doctors in some districts are concerned that they are being given Covaxin, while their counterparts in other districts are getting Covishield, whose Phase 3 trials were completed and the reports were submitted to the regulator.
“Doctors receiving Covaxin are made to give an undertaking that its clinical efficacy is yet to be established,” said the association’s president Dayanand Sagar in the letter.
In an oblique reference to the association’s letter and the concerns of the doctors, Sudhakar said that maximum number of Covid warriors took the vaccine on Sunday across the state and no side-effects were reported since then.
According to the state health department, 66,392 healthcare workers have been vaccinated till Monday across the state, accounting for 49 per cent of the targeted beneficiaries.