On 21st January, 1 million COVISHIELD vaccines entered Kathmandu from India. The Ministry ofHealth says that it will be administered to Frontline Health Workers of all 77 districts from 27thJanuary.
Since the announcement, three types of people are expressing their views publicly; first areconfident that the vaccine works and want to get vaccinated; second are skeptic about theconcept of vaccination and third would rather wait for others to get vaccinated, evaluate theoutcome and only get vaccinated if it looks safe. This has created a confusion in the publicregarding the effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine, perpetrated by fake news in socialmedia. It is crucial for a thoughtful person to study relevant details about anything beforereaching conclusions.
COVISHIELD (Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine) is a COVID-19 Vaccine developed byOxford University and AstraZeneca manufactured by Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd. Indicatedfor individuals 18 years or older, it was produced by recombination where a chimpanzeeadenovirus encodes a protein produced by SARS CoV 2. As the organism producing the proteinis a chimpanzee adenovirus, and the protein produced is a single protein and not the whole SARSCoV 2 virus, the body produces immune response against the protein (S glycoprotein) but doesnot get the COVID 19.
The Serum Institute of India has an agreement with AstraZeneca to produce large doses ofCOVISHIELD. As per the information leaflet of AstraZeneca, the safety and efficacy data of COVISHIELD comes from the clinical trial donelast year in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa in 23000 people where the efficacywas found to be 73%. While one may argue that the reported efficacy for other vaccinesproduced by other companies is far higher, we have no facilities to store those vaccines for thetime being as they require far low storage temperature. COVISHIELD can be stored at regular fridge temperature of 2-8 ℃. Like most of the vaccines currently in theinternational market, this one has to be injected twice in a gap of 4-12 weeks.
As vaccination in this case does not mean injecting SARS CoV 2 itself, one should not expect toget COVID 19 due to vaccination. Rather, the reported side effects are more general side effect of vaccination like injection site pain, tenderness, headache, fatigue, myalgia, malaise, fever, chills, arthralgia and nausea. Most of the adverse reactions are expected to be mild to moderateand are expected to occur less in the second dose than in the first dose.
This is the age of misinformation, and this phenomenon has been affecting multiple sectors, including healthcare delivery. Propagation of fake news occurs very easily as compared to truthand fake news sensationalizes people while truth just gives the facts and numbers. So, it mayseem logical to wait to get vaccinated or not get vaccinated at all when we learn about someconspiracy theory or death of some people after getting vaccinated, but credibility of suchsources and implication of the data should also be considered.
The current trend of COVID 19 may look declining, but I rather see it as a waiting phase for thesecond (or third) wave. Vaccination of a large proportion of population has to be done as soon aspossible to prevent further waves from occurring. Controlling COVID 19 in its tracks right nowis prudent for preventing further mutations in the virus. Thus, it is crucial to get vaccinated asthat protects ourselves and others from getting the infection.
Let's follow the rules and get vaccinated!
(Masters in Clinical Pharmacy Final Year Student, Pokhara University)