All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi Director Dr. Randeep Guleria on Sunday spoke exclusively to RepublicTv allaying fears over the COVID-19 vaccination against the backdrop of the DCGI nod to SII's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
"We must have faith in our scientists, researchers, and our regulatory body. They have looked at all data that is available. The experimental data, the lab data, Phase 1, Phase 2, and limited Phase 3 data based on this, the vaccine is safe. There have been some issues regarding the efficacy of the vaccine which is why they have been approved for emergency use," said Dr. Guleria.
Talking about the efficacy of the two vaccines, the AIIMS Director said, "Covishield has gotten emergency use authorization and can be used as it is being used across the world. Covaxin has only been used as a backup in case there is a surge in the cases, keeping in mind the UK and Africa variant. Data from Covaxin is very encouraging in terms of safety however the trial needs a few more weeks to be completed. This is a backup in case we see a huge surge in cases 2 weeks from now, we land up in a bad situation, we must have a plan in place where he can start vaccinating a large number of people. Covishield is the first line and will be rolled out in the first phase. Covaxin can then later enter the vaccine schedule."
Discussing the priority list ahead of the country's mass vaccination drive, Dr Guleria said that the aim of the vaccination program was to break the chain of transmission by creating herd immunity. "The first step is to vaccinate the higher-risk group, those with co-morbidities where infection can lead to higher death rates. The next is to break the chain of transmission and to vaccinate those who are at a higher risk of infection like healthcare workers," he said.
"People will have immunity because of either contracting COVID or getting vaccinated. If we have a sufficient number of such people, who will be immune and break the chain, the virus will die and not be able to cause an increase in case. This is how a priority list is formed. First would those above the age of 50, those with comorbidities, then we have the healthcare workers and the frontline workers. Next would be comorbidities below the age of 50. That is what has been worked out," he added.