CHENNAI: More recipients opted for the homegrown Covaxin over Covishield at the COVID-19 vaccination centre in the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here.
Dr Manoj Murhekar, Director, National Institute of Epidemiology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was one of the beneficiaries to receive the indigenously developed vaccine candidate Covaxin at the RGGGH COVID-19 vaccination centre. He took the vaccine along with his team, Dr E Theranirajan, Dean, RGGGH and other healthcare providers.
The recipients of Covaxin filled the consent form before taking the jab. The Union Health Minister gave emergency use approval for Covaxin for which phase 3 trials are going on during which the efficacy of the vaccine will be known.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Dr Murhekar said, "The phase 2 trials of Covaxin showed that it produces good antibodies. The T-cell response is also good. The Drugs Controller General of India gave approval only after studying the data. Only the phase 3 trials to know the efficacy are pending and the results will be out in a few weeks. Moreover, Covaxin is developed from the killed virus and it is safe."
"Covishield is also good. But we want to tell people that Covaxin is also safe," said Dr Murhekar, adding that there was no pressure from anyone to choose Covaxin and it was entirely voluntary.
Meanwhile, Dr N Gopalakrishnan, Director, Institute of Nephrology, RGGGH, says everyone should not choose the same vaccine and recipients should also make use of other available vaccines so that more people get it and there is no shortage.
"Vaccines developed from the killed virus will have lesser side effects. So, I chose the vaccine. We also want to dispel the myths that taking vaccine is not safe. While taking the vaccine, people should also think about its availability and decide accordingly so that more people will be benefited," said Gopalakrishnan.
Dr Theranirajan, who also took Covaxin, said he did so to allay any fears over it. "In fact after I took it, a few directors of various departments in the hospital, professors and others took Covaxin and more people came forward and registered for it. Covaxin received 52 registrations on the day while Covishield got 30."
The RGGGH has two COVID-19 vaccination centres -- one for Covishield and the other for Covaxin.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University Vice Chancellor Dr Sudha Seshayyan took the Covishield vaccine at the RGGGH.
Lab technicians, nurses and doctors were among the recipients who took Covaxin at the centre. The health department is administering the vaccine intramuscularly on the left hand.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive began in Tamil Nadu with the Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy launching the campaign in Madurai on Saturday.
Tamil Nadu had received 5,36,500 doses of Covishield and 20,000 doses of Covaxin from the Union Health Ministry for the country's largest immunisation drive.