The Resident Doctors Association of the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital in Delhi wrote to the medical superintendent on Saturday, 16 January, saying that the residents "are a bit apprehensive about the lack of complete trial in case of Covaxin and might not participate in huge numbers, thus defeating the purpose of vaccination."
"We request you to vaccinate us with Covishield which has completed all stages of the trial before its rollout," the letter read, coming on the day the vaccination drive against COVID-19 was launched across India. Days before, two vaccine candidates – Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Serum Institute of India's Covishield – were given emergency use approval by India's top drug regulator.
"“We have come to know that COVID vaccination drive is being conducted by the hospital today. Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech is being preferred over Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute in our hospital.”" - Resident Doctors Association’s letter
However, speaking to The Quint later, Dr Atul Krishna, General Secretary, RML Hospital, said there's no apprehension regarding Covaxin.
"Covaxin is being administered in central institutes, including RML... Senior staff is getting the vaccine first... We have faith in our administration and in our government... We will also get Covaxin, because we have full trust in the administration," he told The Quint.
"There was apprehension earlier because Covishield has undergone more trials and studies... We had a doubt whether Covishield will be administered or Covaxin... That was our question and it wasn't clear then. But now it is clear that we are being administered Covaxin...," he added.
Meanwhile, the medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr AK Singh Rana, was administered Covaxin on Saturday.
Concerns Over Covaxin
Covaxin, jointly made by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology, had been given restricted approval "in emergency situation in public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, to have more options for vaccinations, especially in case of infection by mutant strains.” This is because phase 3 trials of the indigenous vaccine are still ongoing.
Concerns have been raised from several quarters regarding the efficacy and safety of Covaxin. However, the government has asserted that both the vaccines which have been rolled are safe and have been subjected to adequate scientific scrutiny.
"Today, two great vaccines are available. Whatever vaccine you're allotted, please take it," NITI Aayog Member VK Paul told news agency ANI on Saturday.
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