RML Hospital's resident doctors association apprehensive about Covaxin

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is still in Phase 3 trials | Representational image
The Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital's (RMLH's) Resident Doctor Association (RDA) has officially sent a letter to the hospital administration, saying doctors of the hospital are apprehensive about Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, which is the only vaccine being used at the vaccination centre.

With only one hour to go before end of Day 1, only 31 people had turned up to receive the Covaxin jab at the hospital, according to Dr. Palak, medical officer at vaccine site number 2 of the hospital. “We hope more people will come out for vaccination soon,” she added. 

 “As of now, we can only take Covaxin, otherwise no vaccine at all,” said an RML RDA official in a conversation with Business Standard.

“It is not that we think that Covaxin is inferior, it's just that the shot hasn't covered all the phases of trials, unlike Covishield,” he said.

"We gauged the mood of the doctors and have accordingly written the letter. We expect a response by Monday," he added.

Dr. Sheema, medical officer with the National Public Health Surveillance Project of the World Health Organization, said there is no need to worry. “Both vaccines, Covaxin and Covshield, are safe and secure. The difference is efficacy, meaning for how long this vaccine will protect one from that virus. Covaxin, which is in its third phase of testing, has an efficacy duration of more than one year. After the third-stage results, preference for Covaxin is likely to increase,” she said.         

The Covaxin controversy has been around ever since the government gave the shot an “emergency approval” under a “clinical trial mode.” This means that the vaccine is still in Phase-3 trials, except all volunteers will get the vaccine instead of some getting the placebo. The vaccine has been embroiled in controversy, ever since it was approved based on primate data.

Business Standard had earlier reported that Bharat Biotech would be liable to compensate volunteers under the Drugs Rules 2019, which was revealed today in the consent form asking health care workers to take part in the trial.

So far, only hospitals under the Central government are receiving Covaxin jabs in Delhi. State government hospitals have received Serum Insitute of India’s Covishield, which been given approval. 

A total of 81 hospitals in Delhi are functioning as vaccination centres as of now. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal indicated that he plans to increase this figure gradually in accordance with vaccine availability.

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