Vaccination Works Incredibly Well, Data Show in Boost to India's Fight Against Covid-19

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Just four out of 10,000 people who were administered both doses of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and three out of 10,000 recipients of both doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield turned positive for Covid-19 after inoculation, government data showed on Wednesday, indicating that the vaccines available in India have hit the mark against the viral disease.

In absolute numbers, 695 recipients (0.04%) among the 17,37,178 who received two doses of Covaxin and 5,014 recipients (0.03%) of the total 1,57,32,754 people to have received two doses of Covishield — which is manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India (SII) — got the infection after the jabs, the data showed.

The figures exhibiting such low infection rates among vaccinated people come at a time when doubts have been raised over the efficacy of the shots available in India, though experts and scientists have maintained a spontaneous inoculation drive is the only way to battle the pandemic. Wednesday's data will help dispel the doubts further and deliver a massive boost to India's campaign against Covid-19.

Separately, the Indian Council of Medical Research and Bharat Biotech released another set of interim findings from clinical trials, showing that the indigenous Covaxin is 100% effective against severe Covid — meaning that those who receive the vaccine are not going to fall seriously ill with the disease. In February, AstraZeneca had said its Covishield vaccine was 100% effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death.

Taken together, the data show that both vaccines currently in use in India offer full protection against severe disease, a heartening statistic which demonstrates that increasing vaccine coverage will quickly reduce the burden on India’s hospitals and the health care sector that is reeling due to a worrying second wave.

The government's data on Wednesday also showed that a total 1.1 crore people received Covaxin; 93, 56, 436 beneficiaries got just the first dose, while 4,208 (0.04%) of them turned positive after the shot. In case of Covishield, a total of 11.6 crore people received the vaccine; 10,03,02,745 got just the first dose and 17,145 (0.02%) of them turned positive after receiving the jab.

Experts say no vaccine can claim to have 100% success rate against the disease, but they do stop it in most cases; there are indications from across the globe that they also prevent the severe cases. Chances of a Covid-19 infection after getting both doses — Covaxin and Covishield are two-dose vaccines — are rare, an argument proved correct by India's Wednesday data.

What experts call "breakthrough cases" are few and far between. They could be caused mostly due to failure in adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour (masking and social distancing) and high exposure to the Sars-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

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