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Maharashtra: Tepid response to Covaxin, 54 pc recipients turn out for vaccine

Covaxin saw a relatively poorer response than Covishield in turnout numbers during Saturday’s inoculation drive in Maharashtra. Of 600 people, 326 (54.3 per cent) turned up for their Covaxin shot, while Covishield noted 64.5 per cent turnout out of 27,900 registered beneficiaries.

Mumbai saw the poorest turnout, with 39 beneficiaries for Covaxin at JJ Hospital. At least 100 beneficiaries were registered at the centre. In Solapur and Pune each, 60 people came to the Government Medical College for Covaxin shot out of 100 registered. Most were medical college staffers who received intimation on Friday night.

In Solapur, District Health Officer Dr Shitalkumar Jadhav said the six Covaxin centres were prepared in the last two days and preparations were hasty. “We will see more people come out for Covaxin in the next round,” he said. In Pune, civil surgeon Dr Ashok Nandapurkar said several were not present on duty or had gone somewhere and had to miss the shot.

Covaxin has been indigenously developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The vaccine is undergoing a phase III human trial to measure its efficacy, the data on which remains pending. The vaccine is being administered under an ‘open label clinical trial mode’, with consent forms signed by beneficiaries and close monitoring a necessary clause, unlike Covishield.

Across the state, 600 people were registered for a Covaxin shot in six hospital sites in JJ Hospital (Mumbai), Government Medical College (Solapur, Nagpur, Aurangabad) and district hospitals in Amravati and Pune.

JJ hospital’s vaccination centre, spread across three rooms, with four vaccination booths, was the smallest centre among the 10 in Mumbai. Set up on the second floor of the OPD building and next to the Department of Dermatology, the vaccination centre received curious looks from the waiting patients. Many patients inquired if they could get the vaccination as well. The centre had more patients waiting in the corridor than the beneficiaries of the vaccine.

All the beneficiaries, after the initial check-up of blood pressure, temperature and oxygen levels, were told in detail about Covaxin vaccine. The consent form declares that compensation will be provided by the sponsors in case of any adverse effect of the Covaxin.

“Through this, I want to lead by example and show the citizens that there is no adverse effect of this vaccine. No one should approach this process with fear,” said Dr Neelanjana Guha Niyogi of the Bio-Chemistry department of the JJ hospital.

Beneficiaries were asked to examine their health for the next seven days and report any symptoms like pain, headache, itching, and weakness.

The second dose of the Covaxin will be administered after 28 days.

Aware of the apprehension related to Covaxin, JJ Hospital had even accepted walk-in health workers who were willing to get a shot. At least eight workers who were vaccinated registered on the spot, while SMSes were sent to 200 health workers. The first five beneficiaries at the centre were doctors and department heads.

Immunization Officer and Associate Professor at JJ Hospital, Dr Prashant Howal, was set to become the first beneficiary of the Covaxin in the city. However, after he developed an eye infection and a mild fever on Saturday, JJ Hspital Dean Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar stepped up to allay the fears and received the vaccine first. “The vaccine is absolutely safe and I have taken it myself. I am feeling fine and there is nothing to worry about. This vaccine has been approved after due process,” said Mankeshwar.

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