While there are reports of supply shortages and slot unavailability, there’s also a big looming question which is on every eligible vaccine beneficiary’s mind- Covaxin or Covishield, what should they choose?
Wanting to get one vaccine over the other is also making many willingly delay their vaccination.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India marketed Covishield (also known globally as Oxford-Astrazeneca or Vaxzevria) are the two available vaccines in India. Both have surpassed approval nods and carry good, comparable efficacy rates which meet WHO standards. Covishield and Covaxin also are traditional vaccines, which are developed in a somewhat similar manner.
But now, when people in India do have the option of selecting, what should they go for?
We put across this question to Dr Sushila Kataria, Head, Internal Medicine, Medanta Medicity during our Instagram Live. Here’s what she had to say:
While Dr Kataria fully opined that people right not should not be sceptical of getting the vaccine and get the jab as and when they can, she did add that while the priority should remain on getting vaccinated right now, people can also make an informed choice between the two vaccines (whenever the choice is thrown open) basis their requirements- their pain sensitivity, prior health conditions.
Who should get Covaxin right now?
Covaxin has been clinically proven to be well-effective against COVID-19, and may even work in preventing mutant variants from spreading. While the vaccine is a traditional model and carries reactogenic side-effects, case studies and data collected from vaccination so far have pointed out that of all vaccines, Covaxin delivers the least amount of side effects, such as fever, redness, chills or pain at the injection site.
So, for a person who is sensitive to pain, or worried about side effects, opting for Covaxin would be a safer option, according to Dr Kataria. It can also happen that the side effects are way milder, and make your vaccination experience safer.
Right now, Covaxin also has a shorter dosing timeline, which means that the doses will be given 4-6 weeks apart. One can also base the decision accordingly, especially if they have future commitments, or more susceptible to COVID-19 risks.
Those with a history or a risk of blood clotting may also be advised to take Covaxin right now since blood clotting is a reported side-effect with Covishield. However, it is still considered to be a ‘rare’ after-effect.
Do remember that side-effects may show up differently on everybody, and resolve in a while. Therefore, be rest assured, and get the jab when you can.
For a more detailed comparison between both the vaccines, click here.
However, older people, those using any form of blood-thinning medications may be advised to not take Covaxin. Remember to check the fact sheet and make an informed call.
Who should opt for Covishield jab?
Covishield was one of the first vaccines approved for use and primarily used in India, since January 2021. While it too is a traditional vaccine, Dr Kataria warns that younger people, opting for the Oxford-Astrazeneca jab tend to feel more intense side effects than those who get Covaxin. Several reports also mention that Covishield showcases more immunogenic response (hence, making the way for more side effects).
Covishield jab is also primarily offered to older people or those with serious comorbidities. Those between 18-45 should also keep their health parameters in mind before signing up for the vaccine.
However, talking of the benefits, Dr Kataria also added that Covishield mounts more antibodies, in comparison to Covaxin (even though their efficacy rates weigh similarly). Those with frail immunity may hence consider taking this vaccine.
The bottom line
Do remember that both of the vaccines we have right now are equally effective. Even if they do not fully prevent COVID infections, both Covishield and Covaxin have been known to cut down severity and mortality risk associated with the infection.
The option of getting choices helps citizens, right now, make an informed choice. The vaccine availability may also depend state-by-state, so do not erroneously prolong your vaccination appointment. Getting any vaccine right now is better than no vaccine, so get the jab when you can.