Healthcare professionals in India have been reluctant to receive the Covid-19 vaccines approved for human use by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but the efficacy data for which is unknown.
Several renowned scientists and health workers refused to take the doses, saying the reckless decision to approve her without relying on the efficacy data reduced confidence in her.
On the 16th, India launched the world’s largest vaccination program to immunize 30 million high-risk people, starting with healthcare professionals, with two vaccines: Covishield, from Oxford-AstraZeneca, developed by the Serum Institute, and Covaxin, from Bharat Biotech.
The Oxford drug produced in India, by the way, became a cause of international greed – Brazil was initially ignored by the Indians to the detriment of the nations neighboring the Asian country. A week later than expected, last Friday (22), the 2 million doses expected by the Jair Bolsonaro government arrived.
To encourage adherence, Modi summoned the directors of the country’s largest public health institutes to receive the injection.
India’s health ministry shared a letter signed by 49 “eminent scientists and doctors”, stating that “the two Covid-19 vaccines approved by the national regulatory agency are safe.”
Even with these endorsements, authorities have made no secret of the fears shared by doctors across the country about the effectiveness.
Health workers have been threatened with pay cuts by authorities for refusing to receive the vaccine.
Since the start of the vaccination program, 1.61 million people have received the injection – 0.08% of them had side effects and 0.0007% were hospitalized, according to data released by the Indian ministry of Health.
Eight health workers have died after receiving the Covishield vaccine, but the government said the deaths were unrelated to the vaccination.
The coverage rate was 54 people per immunization session – just over half of the number, around 100, identified by the Ministry of Health as an appropriate threshold.
The New Delhi Resident Physicians Association informed, in a letter sent to the medical director of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, that its members would not participate in the vaccination because they were “worried about the lack of ‘full trials’ of Covaxin.
Authorities now fear that vials containing 10 to 20 doses of the vaccine could be wasted if there are not enough people to be vaccinated within four hours of opening the containers.
At least 52 doses have already been missed in this way in Karnataka, a state in southern India.
The government approved the restricted use of Covaxin on day 3, citing efficacy data from non-human trials, after finding that this information was not available in human trials.
“The company (Bharat Biotech) presented safety and efficacy data from the challenge study with non-human primates, which indicates that the vaccine is safe and effective,” official documents reveal.
Even to endorse Covishield, of Oxford-AstraZeneca, authorities were guided by efficacy data from tests carried out in Brazil and the United Kingdom, with data from tests carried out in India not yet known.
Anonymous, a healthcare professional from the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar said most of his colleagues don’t want to be a guinea pig because they see the vaccination as a phase 3 trial.
Health ministry officials have pledged to promote confidence in vaccines and to reprimand those who question vaccine approval.
Senior government health official VK Paul said: “For the pandemic to end, the vaccine hesitation must end. It is vaccination that leads us to eliminate this calamity as quickly as possible. If our health workers, especially doctors and nurses, refuse to be vaccinated, it is very worrying. “
India is the second country hardest hit by Covid, after the United States.
The number of cases in the country has reached 10.05 million. At least 152,000 people have already died from the coronavirus – a mark only smaller than that of the United States and Brazil in absolute numbers.
Circulars have already been issued in several hospitals, asking administrators and medical directors to get vaccinated and to motivate their subordinates to do the same.
Malini Aisola, of the All India Drug Action Network (Aidan), a civil society entity that fights for patient rights, said: “The government can promote trust through public disclosure of regulatory approval processes, following the principles of integrity and transparency. scientist “.
Aidan has asked India’s drug regulatory agency that the arguments, data and scientific analysis regarding vaccines approved for use in humans be in the public domain.
Indian Academy of Sciences President Partha Majumder said: “Relevant data from the larger Phase 3 trial needs to be made available before the vaccine is administered to large numbers of people. ” For her, vaccinating without adequate efficacy data can lead people to have “a false sense of security”.
Country launches campaign to dispel fear with drugs
New Delhi In an attempt to reduce resistance from health professionals and the lack of information on vaccines, the Indian government has launched an education and communication campaign in the country.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said: “The paradox is that countries all over the world are asking us for vaccines, while a part of us fosters misinformation and doubt for political purposes.” According to Vardhan, “all the most prestigious doctors in renowned hospitals have already received the vaccine.”
At least 10% of doses held by the Indian state may need to be discarded, according to the ministry.
An official said there are no portfolio guidelines to delay the pay of professionals who do not want to be vaccinated.