India is struggling to persuade its health and front-line officials to take its own vaccine against COVID-19, which has been controversially approved, with no evidence of efficacy at a late stage, government figures said on Thursday, days before the wider introduction.
The country has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections after the United States, with recent cases increasing as masks have shrunk and countries have eased social distancing measures.
Lack of confidence in a home vaccine could prevent India from achieving its goal of vaccinating 300 million of its 1.35 billion people by August.
India has vaccinated more than 1
But only 1.2 million, or about 11 percent, received COVAXIN, a locally developed vaccine from Bharat Biotech, while the remaining 9.4 million used the vaccine licensed by AstraZeneca, according to the government’s online platform Co-Win, used for tracking. the drive for vaccination.
To date, the Indian federal government has ordered 10 million doses of COVAXIN and 21 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot. The government says it has received at least 5.5 million doses of COVAXIN.
“It’s all because of the initial discussion about how [COVAXIN] it was just an experimental vaccine, how did it not complete the phase 3 trial, ”said Dr. Subhash Salunkhe, who is advising the Maharashtra state government on the vaccination strategy.
“These things created doubts in people’s minds, which led to less acceptance. Availability is not an issue at this time. “
However, Indian Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday explained COVAXIN’s lower utilization of Bharat Biotech’s limited production capacity compared to that of the Serum Institute in India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, which is making AstraZeneca a shot for low and middle income countries.
“We found that in proportion to the amount of vaccine available, [COVAXIN’s] the release is quite satisfactory, “he told a news conference.
The Ministry of Health did not respond to a request for comment on the latest data, showing that only about 12 percent of the ordered doses were administered.
Earlier this month, Chatisgarh, an opposition-run country of 32 million people, told the federal government it would not use COVAXIN until its effectiveness could be proven in an ongoing judicial investigation.
An epidemiologist and public health experts also criticized COVAXIN’s approval as hasty.
Bharat Biotech said data on the effectiveness of a study of nearly 26,000 volunteers would be published soon. The company, along with India’s drug regulator, says the vaccine is safe and effective based on early and interim studies.
Bharat Biotech did not immediately comment on the lower absorption of its vaccine.
The government is trying to speed up vaccinations as cases intensify, especially in Maharashtra in western and southern Kerala, presumably as they reopen suburban trains and schools.
Wearing masks and social distancing have also largely disappeared, as major events such as international cricket matches are played in front of tens of thousands of spectators who barely follow the rules of COVID-19.
India reported 16,738 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the highest daily jump in a month, according to the Ministry of Health on Thursday, increasing the total to 11.05 million.
More than half of the new cases are in Maharashtra, India’s richest and home to its financial capital, Mumbai, which reported a record high of 8,807 cases on Wednesday.
The death toll in the country has risen by 138, also the highest in a month, with a total of 156,705.