Delhi: Will take vaccine at the earliest, says Randeep Guleria | Delhi News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: I will take the Covid-19 vaccination as soon as it is available for healthcare workers, said Dr Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and member of the national task force for Covid management. “I am very confident about the safety of the vaccines approved for emergency use in India. Once they are made available to healthcare workers at AIIMS, I will certainly go ahead and take the jab,” Dr Guleria told TOI on Monday, in effect allaying concerns about the safety and efficacy of the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines approved in India.
Covishield has been developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and is being manufactured by Serum Institute of India. It has completed phase III trials and is being used in the UK also. Covaxin is an indigenous jab developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research. It is still undergoing phase III trials across India, including at AIIMS, Delhi.
Guleria said that in an ideal situation it would have been prudent to wait for the results of the third phase trials before granting approval, the decision to allow emergency use pending the trial data was taken in view of the situation. “So far, the trials have not shown any significant adverse event. Even if the vaccine is 60% effective in preventing the disease or its severe symptoms, we must roll it out to be able to save lives,” the AIIMS director said.
He added that Covaxin has received permission for emergency use in clinical trial mode which means all recipients will be monitored as in a trial. Covaxin is based on an inactivated whole virus. Dr Balram Bhargava, ICMR chief, said it had the potential to target mutated coronavirus strains, including the UK variant.
The Covid vaccine is going to be administered only at the government-approved centres at present, so isn’t available for private purchase. While healthcare and frontline workers will be the recipients in the first and second phases of vaccination, people aged 50 years and above and those with co-morbidities will then be inoculated. Guleria said that young and otherwise healthy individuals are less susceptible to complications associated with Covid and, therefore, the decisions on whether and how to vaccinate them will be taken at a later stage depending on the situation.
Over the past few weeks, daily infection has reduced to approximately 20,000 cases per day from around 90,000 in September. But there is no room for complacency. “We saw how Europe and the United Kingdom opened up businesses once the cases came down. But the infection has again peaked significantly, forcing them to go in for travel restrictions,” the doctor added.
Guleria added that till date there was no cure for Covid-19 and mass vaccination was the only option to prevent its spread and deaths caused by it. While India has reported 38 cases of the mutated strain first identified in the UK, the AIIMS director said there was no evidence so far to suggest that the mutation was increasing the severity of the disease. “Usually, it is believed that viruses tend to get weaker as they mutate,” he said.
Guleria stressed on the need to continue with the anti-Covid preventive measures such as wearing masks and washing hands regularly in the foreseeable future or until the risk of infection subsides completely.

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