The Health Ministry hinted on Tuesday that for now, the COVID-19 vaccine recipients will not have the option to choose from the two vaccines recently approved for restricted emergency use in India. Reacting to this, Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari on Wednesday questioning the government said that by not allowing the recipient to pick a vaccine of his choice, "is NDA/BJP making Guinea pigs out fo Indians?"
Taking to Twitter, he said, "Till yesterday NDA/BJP claimed Covaxin has been cleared for emergency use. Is roll out THE REAL Phase-3 trial of Covaxin?"
Replying to a question at a press conference in New Delhi, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "At many places in the world, more than one vaccine is being administered, but presently, in no country, vaccine recipients have the option of choosing the shots."
India has recently approved two vaccines for the viral disease for restricted emergency use -- Oxford University's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Bhushan said there will be a gap of 28 days between two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and its effectiveness can be seen only after 14 days.
"So we urge people to keep following COVID appropriate behaviour," he said. India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
Bhushan said 54.72 lakh of the entire stock of COVID-19 vaccine doses ordered so far were received by the designated national and state-level vaccine stores till Tuesday afternoon, with the Coronavirus inoculation drive set to begin from Saturday. He said all the orders -- 1.1 crore doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech -- will be received by January 14.
Covishield and Covaxin, the two COVID-19 vaccines which have received Emergency Use Authorisation (EAU) have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, said on Tuesday and noted that the two "are safest of the vaccines". "Both the vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) have been authorized for emergency use and there should be no doubt about their safety. They have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible. There is no risk of any significance," Dr Paul said at a press conference.
(With agency inputs)