The outbreak of COVID-19 has claimed millions of lives worldwide since 2020. The second wave of this pandemic in 2021 is more vigorous in India and many other countries, taking away the life of numerous people of all ages. Hence, it is essential to save people’s lives by vaccinating them as early as possible to save them from this deadly virus.
The vaccination is supposed to strengthen the immunity power of the human body, which will stimulate the production of antibodies within our body cells. Thus, the Coronavirus is expected to be destroyed immediately if it enters our body system.
Therefore, the Indian government has taken the initiative to launch a countrywide vaccination program, with the aim of vaccinating the entire population by the end of 2021. Presently, two different vaccines are available in India, namely Covaxin and Covishield. So, through this post we shall know all details about these two COVID-19 vaccines, comparing their pros and cons.
Who are the Developer of Covaxin and Covishield?
Covaxin is developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd. It is an Indian company based in Hyderabad that deals with biotechnology, bio-therapeutics, discovery and development of new medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical products for the last 24 years. Bharat Biotech collaborated with the National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), for the production of Covaxin, for preventing COVID-19.
Covishield is the brand name of another Corona vaccine developed jointly by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, which is a multinational pharmaceutical company of British-Swedish origin. It is locally manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), which is an Indian company dealing with biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals, based in Pune city of Maharashtra.
Who should use Covaxin?
Covaxin is safe for use by all adult men and women over the age of 18. It is clinically tested to be 81% effective in preventing the spread of Coronavirus in the human body. It is found to have the least side effects, causing only mild pain and redness at the spot where the injection is administered, along with light fever and chill afterward. Thus, it is safe for people who are more sensitive to drugs.
The Indian government has prepared a list of people who should be given the vaccination of Covaxin on a priority basis. State governments inform those people about their opportunities of receiving this vaccine, for which they need to visit the site designated for this job on the scheduled date. However, aged people who are currently taking blood-thinning medications should not take this vaccine unless advised by their doctors.
Who should use Covishield?
Covishield can be administered to all above the age of 18. But the intensity of side effects can be more in younger people compared to the middle-aged people over the age of 45. Thus, all applicants for vaccination should have a thorough health checkup before receiving their doses of Covishield, if they have any serious health issues. Some people have also reported about immunogenic actions of this vaccine, which make its side effects more intense.
However, Covishield is reportedly safer for aged people and patients having different comorbidity issues. The success rate of this vaccine is claimed to be 70% – 90% in preventing the spread of Coronavirus. Doctors also advise people suffering from allergic reactions not to take this vaccination till they are completely cured. Those who have suffered from COVID-19 recently are also asked to take their vaccination after 3 months.
What type of vaccines are Covaxin and Covishield?
Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine where an entire virus particle is destructed by applying chemicals, heat, or radiation, to prevent its chances of replication in the human body. This technology is quite well-practiced and the vaccine is derived from Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero-Cell. The virus introduced to the body through this vaccination aims in stimulating the immune system, without exerting any negative effect on the body. This conventional technology was earlier used to manufacture vaccines for influenza, polio, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.
Covishield is also a viral vaccine but prepared by using a different technology. An adenovirus named ChAdOx1 is taken from the body of a Chimpanzee and modified for carrying the spike protein of Coronavirus. It is then injected into the body of the vaccine receive so that this cold virus can stimulate the immune system of a human body to produce antibodies to fight Coronavirus. However, the virus used for this vaccination cannot infect the human body system and make that person ill. This technology was earlier used to make vaccines for the Ebola virus that causes almost similar symptoms to that of COVID-19.
What is the difference in doses of Covaxin and Covishield?
People will not find any difference regarding the doses of Covaxin and Covishield. 0.5 ml of the Corona vaccine is injected at a time into the upper arm of the receiver, irrespective of whether it is Covaxin or Covishield. However, the time gap between the first dose and the second dose varies among these two vaccines. For Covaxin, the second dose should be given only after 4 – 6 weeks, as per the advice of doctors. In the case of Covishield, the second dose can be administered only after 84 days, or it may be a span of 12 – 16 weeks, as preferred by doctors after reviewing the physical conditions of a vaccine receiver.
What is the dose schedule of the vaccines?
The dose schedules of Corona vaccines are decided by the government of India. As of now, common people do not have a choice for having any particular vaccination among Covaxin and Covishield. Both vaccines are declared to be safe by the government, as these vaccines are released for use only after successful trials on human beings. The second dose of Covaxin is supposed to be administered 4 – 6 weeks after its first dose, to make a person fully safe against COVID-19. And the second dose of the Covishield vaccine can be taken 84 days after taking its first dose.
Initially, the first dose of vaccine was scheduled for doctors, nurses, and health workers who face the maximum risk of this Corona infection. Two doses of Corona vaccines are supposed to be given to each person. Now, vaccination drives are conducted by all state governments to reach the maximum number of adults, comprising both young and old. The second dose of vaccination is scheduled according to the dosage rule of the specific vaccine received by a person.
What is the eligibility for receiving the vaccines?
Initially, the government selected people engaged in healthcare services and other frontline COVID warriors for vaccination against this fatal disease. Then people over the age of 60 were asked to receive vaccination from a few definite points. People having comorbidity problems within the age group of 45 – 59 years were also given priority in providing vaccines. From April 1, all men and women over the age of 45 are invited to register online for vaccination countrywide. Hence, people born before 1st January 1977 could apply for vaccines during this period.
However, all adult citizens over the age of 18 can register for vaccination from May 1, 2021. If anyone is suffering from COVID-19 at present, he/she should wait for 14 days and receive the Corona negative report before applying for the vaccination. Even the survivors of this disease are recommended to take the vaccine, to strengthen their immunity and prevent this infection for a second time. Therefore, all adult people are now eligible to register online on the government portal for the Corona vaccination.
What is the Efficacy rate of Covaxin vs Covishield?
According to the results of the third phase trial of Covaxin, this Corona vaccine is found to be averagely 81% effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Many people have got Covaxin from their local vaccination centers and they have reported 78% – 81% efficacy till now. The efficacy of Covishield is found to be ranging between 70% and 90% according to all the reports collected from all over the world. Therefore, the efficacy rates of both vaccines are satisfactory for common people, who are yet to be vaccinated to fight this disease.
What are Side Effects of Covaxin vs Covishield?
All vaccines are supposed to have some side effects along with their proven benefits. Both Covaxin and Covishield are found to have a few side effects as well, which do not pose any serious threat to the health or life of vaccine receivers.
Covaxin causes pain and swelling at the point where this vaccine is injected, along with stiffness at the entire upper arm. The vaccine receiver may later suffer from dizziness, fever, chills, headache, nausea, muscle pain, joint pain, and tiredness for a few days. Some people also complained of breathing trouble and swelling in their throats after taking this vaccine.
Covishield causes pain, swelling, hotness, and itching sensation at the injecting spot. Moreover, people experience headaches, fever, joint pain, stomachache, tremor, cold and cough, nausea, sweating, giddiness, and fatigue after taking this vaccine. However, these side effects vary from person to person, depending on the current health condition of each receiver.
What is the composition of Covanxin and Covishield?
The composition of Covaxin includes inactivated or dead Coronavirus, Aluminum hydroxide gel, 2-Phenoxyethanol, Phosphate buffered saline and TLR-7/8 agonist.
Covishield is composed of protein segments of Coronavirus, dead adenovirus, L-Histidine, Aluminum hydroxide gel, L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, Ethanol, Sodium chloride, Magnesium chloride hexahydrate, Sucrose, Polysorbate 80, and Disodium edetate dehydrate.
What is the price difference between Covaxin vs Covishield?
Covaxin is more expensive among these two vaccines currently available in India. It costs Rs 400 per vaccine for state governments and Rs 1200 for private hospitals. On the other hand, Covishield is cheaper, with the price of Rs 300 per vaccine for government bodies and Rs 600 for private organizations. However, common people may not need to pay these prices for vaccination, as most state governments are bearing the costs for providing free vaccines to their people.
Who are the beneficiaries of Covaxin vs Covishield?
Both Covaxin and Covishield can be given to all adult men and women over the age of 18. However, Covishield also claims to be safe for children over the age of 12, though it is not yet assured about administering to kids. Also, it is now released by the government that breastfeeding mothers can take the vaccine as it is safe. Therefore, all adult Indians are eligible to be beneficiaries of Covaxin or Covishield, as per the decisions of state governments and doctors.
Which Countries have approved Covaxin and Covishield?
Till now, 11 countries that have approved Covaxin, among which India, Nepal, Iran, Mauritius, Philippines, Guyana, Zimbabwe, Paraguay, and Mexico are the prominent ones. 7 more countries are now considering the option of using Covaxin for fighting all the strains of Coronavirus. Bharat Biotech has applied for the approval of the World Health Organization (WHO); after which it can expect approval in many other countries.
Covishield is approved in 40 countries of the world, among which Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bahrain, Lebanon, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and some African and European countries are the notable ones. It is also approved by WHO, for which it is preferred in so many countries.
Summary of Covaxin vs Covishield
The main difference between Covaxin and Covishield is the gap between the first dose and second dose of these vaccines. The two doses of Covaxin can be given at a gap of only 4 – 6 weeks while two Covishield doses can be administered at an interval of 12 – 16 weeks. The success rate of Covaxin is reportedly 78% – 81% while the effectiveness of Covishield is found to be 70% – 90%, which can be checked only after taking the second dose of these vaccines. Both vaccines can be given to all adults above the age of 18, to reduce their risks of getting infected with the deadly Coronavirus.
FAQ’s (Covaxin vs Covishield)
1) Can Covishield and Covaxin be mixed?
Many people have doubts whether a dose of Covaxin and a dose of Covishield can be taken if both doses of the same vaccine are not available. However, medical experts advise against it, as these two vaccines are made of different technologies. The mixing of these vaccines can lead to dangerous circumstances, like increasing the risk of blood clotting for some patients.
2) How long does COVID vaccine last?
It is predicted that the effect of a COVID vaccine will last for 6 months, as per the claims of some vaccine-producing companies. However, scientists are trying to extend the effect of these vaccines up to 1 year after taking both doses. It is still in the trial phase to check whether an additional booster dose of the Corona vaccine is needed to make the person secure against this disease.
3) Do I have the option of choosing the vaccine I will receive?
Since the number of vaccines is still shorter compared to the total population of adults in India, there is no chance of choosing a particular vaccine for common beneficiaries. They will be given the vaccine whatever is currently available at the local vaccination center. The distribution of vaccines is organized by the state governments, according to the bulk lot of vaccines sent by the Central government.
4) Is it mandatory to take a Vaccine?
It is mandatory for health care staff and people facing higher risks of Coronavirus infection to take the vaccine to fight off this disease. However, other people above the age of 18 are requested to register their names online for this vaccination. Though it is not mandatory by law to be vaccinated for other people; many state governments are now taking initiatives to provide vaccines to the maximum number of people. Government organizations and commercial companies are instructed to make it mandatory for their employees to be vaccinated. In some places, local civic authorities are moving around to every house, for vaccinating elderly citizens.
5) What medication to be avoided before taking Covaxin or Covshield?
All types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) should be avoided before taking any vaccine recommended for preventing COVID-19. Normally, these medicines, like Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen, are taken for pain relief. But the chemical compositions of these drugs prevent the formation of antibodies, as supposed to form due to the action of the vaccine. Thus, the main purpose of taking a dose of Covaxin or Covishield can be ruined due to the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs. However, all other medications are found to be safe for use with these Corona vaccines, including anti-allergic drugs, paracetamol, and medicines taken for the treatment of cancer or cardiac problems.
6) How long will I remain protected after vaccination?
Since the vaccination for COVID-19 has only started in 2021 worldwide, it is still early to confirm the duration of its effectiveness. However, doctors and scientists suggest that the action of Corona vaccines is expected to last up to 6 months. But it is still not clear what may happen after that period and it is not possible to know without observing some vaccine recipients after that time span. Some vaccine manufacturers are trying to extend the action of their COVID-19 vaccines up to 1 year, to provide longer protection to people.
However, it is very important to take the vaccine for preventing the spread of fatal Coronavirus. Both Covaxin and Covishield are effective in saving many lives from COVID-19. Thus, everyone needs to be registered for getting vaccinated as soon as possible, to win the battle against this disease.