Covishield and Covaxin are the two homegrown vaccines approved by the Government of India for COVID-19. Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd, Hyderabad, in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).
Covishield has been developed by the Oxford-AstraZeneca and is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
We may also have an addition of the 3rd vaccine by Russia, known as Sputnik V, very soon. It has recently been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
Mechanism of the vaccines
Covaxin is an inactivated form of the virus SARS COV2, which is responsible for COVID-19, injected in your system. While the virus remains intact, its genetic material is broken and it cannot replicate further to cause an infection. An immune response to this foreign body helps produce the antibodies required to fight the original virus if you get actually exposed to it.
In case of Covishield, the actual SARS COV2 is not injected in your body. The common adenovirus acts as a vector and carries COVID-19 spike protein. It is injected in your system to mimic SARS COV2 virus and your immune system produces antibodies to fight it.
Efficacy of the vaccines
Both Covaxin and Covishield vaccines have shown more than satisfactory results, they are effective and match the WHO standards. However, with more clinical data, observations are being made regularly.
Covaxin, as per interim results and clinical studies was found to carry over 78% efficacy. Additionally, clinical evidence suggests that Covaxin could reduce severity and mortality risk by a significant 100 per cent.
Covishield has been seen to carry an efficacy rate of 70%, which could be further scaled up to 90% if the dosing is given half a dose, followed by a full dose a month later. It has well-suited individuals and noticeably reduced the risk of symptomatic infections as well as speed up recovery timelines, which has been much talked about recently.
The risk of contracting COVID after 2 doses of Covaxin or Covishiled is minuscule. A study has found 0.03% people caught the virus after the 2nd dose of Covishield and 0.04% tested covid positive after the 2nd dose of Covaxin.
Side effects of the vaccines
It is important to note that any vaccine may trigger mild fever or slight discomfort. Some of the side effects which have been reported after taking Covaxin, include redness in the injected arm, pain and swelling at the injection site, lumps, low-grade temperature, malaise, headache, vomiting and fatigue.
A person who has taken Covishield vaccine can develop some mild symptoms such as injection site pain, body ache, rashes, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, nausea and malaise.
Pricing and availability of the vaccines
Both Covaxin and Covishield have been made available in the open market for states to procure. SII has marked Covishield to be sold at Rs 300 for the government and Rs 600 to private facilities.
Covaxin is slightly expensive and has been priced Rs 400 for state governments, while for private hospitals and facilities, it will be priced at Rs 1200.
However, this may not be the final rate vaccine beneficiaries need to pay. Some states are offering subsidies as well as providing vaccines, free of cost.
Age of beneficiaries
While Covishield has been approved for people aged 18 years and above, Covaxin can be given to people aged 12 years and above.
You must also remember that both vaccines have double dose and the interval of doses in case of Covishield is 12-16 weeks, whereas, for Covaxin it is 4-6 weeks.
Things to consider before taking the vaccine
While people don’t have much of a choice regarding which COVID vaccine one should take, the ones who have certain pre-existing conditions must get a doctor’s consultation before progressing.
Studies have shown that the Covaxin dose may be slightly unsafe for people who have a fever at the time of administration, are on blood-thinning medications, suffering from immune disorders and bleeding problems. As for Covishield, people with any kind of allergy should be careful; those on blood-thinning medications and the ones planning to conceive must speak to a doctor beforehand. People who recently had COVID-19 should also consider postponing their turn for vaccination by up to 3-4 weeks.
While you can always compare and study which vaccine is more effective, it is wise to opt for vaccination irrespective of which vaccine is available. Covaxin and Covishield have both been deemed safe for use and though there may be minimal side effects, it shall likely go away in a couple of days. Getting vaccinated is of utmost priority and following COVID appropriate behaviour is the need of the hour.