India’s homegrown vaccine maker warns those with some pre-existing conditions not to get its jabs

Mayank Aggarwal
·2 min read
<p>India’s health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan holding Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, during the launch of the vaccination drive on 16 January</p> (EPA)

India’s health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan holding Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, during the launch of the vaccination drive on 16 January


India’s homegrown vaccine maker, Bharat Biotech, which has developed a Covid-19 vaccine, has asked those with a history of allergies, fever, bleeding disorder and several other existing conditions to avoid getting their jabs.

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and AstraZeneca/Oxford University’s Covishield are the two vaccines that India allowed earlier his month for its Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The company, in a factsheet for vaccine recipients and caregivers, said it is advisable not to take their vaccine, Covaxin, if someone has allergies, fever, a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner, or immunocompromised.

It also advised those who are “on a medicine that affects your immune system, are pregnant or breastfeeding or have received any other Covid-19 vaccine,” against taking their vaccine.

Bharat Biotech advised people to inform healthcare workers of these conditions before getting the shots.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), which is manufacturing the AstraZeneca vaccine in India, has also released a factsheet listing out the same conditions and asked recipients to consult the “healthcare provider before deciding to take the vaccine.”

Bharat Biotech said side effects reported with Covaxin include pain, swelling, redness, itching at the site of the injection, stiffness in the upper arm, weakness in the injection arm, body ache, headache, fever, malaise, weakness, rashes, nausea and vomiting.

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The vaccine developer also clarified that there is a “remote chance that Covaxin could cause a severe allergic reaction” and for this reason, the recipient is asked to stay under observation for 30 minutes after getting the vaccine.

It said the sign of an allergic reaction could include “difficulty in breathing, swelling of face and throat, fast heartbeat, rash all over the body, dizziness and weakness.”

“These may not be all the possible side effects of Covaxin. Serious and unexpected side effects may occur. Covaxin is still being studied in clinical trials,” said the factsheet.

Compared to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Covaxin has been facing controversy after it was reported that it was given emergency approval without the crucial data to prove its effectiveness in combating coronavirus, even as the Indian regulator maintains that it is safe.

India’s vaccine campaign started on 16 January with a focus on first providing it to the health workers including doctors, nurses and other frontline medical staff.

So far, the total number of people vaccinated in the country is 454,049, said India’s health ministry in a statement. India has the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world with 10.58 million cases which include over 152,000 deaths.

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