Srinagar: With the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine along with another one approved for use in India, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Sunday said it was a “big relief for us as these vaccines need easier cold storage facilities”.
“The vaccines can be kept at normal fridge temperature unlike the Pfizer jab that has to be kept at minus 70 degree Celsius,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement.
India’s drug regulator on Sunday approved Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, ‘Covishield’, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed ‘Covaxin’ by Bharat Biotech for emergency use in the country.
Dr Nisar said while Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need ultra-cold storage conditions, Oxford and Biotech vaccines can be stored, transported and handled at normal and standard refrigerated condition of 2 to 8 degree Celsius for at least six months.
“So, the vaccines can be stored in ordinary refrigerators and do not require specialized freezers,” he said.
Dr Nisar further explained that the vaccines can be administered in existing healthcare system and distributed using existing logistics.
He said there is also more confidence about supply as the vaccines are locally made adding the government will be able to vaccinate more people.
“While Covishield has been found to be 70.42 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 infection, Biotech’s Covaxin has also been found to provide robust immune response,” he said.
The DAK President said the vaccines have to be administered in two doses with the second dose to be given 28 days after the first dose. The maximum effectiveness of the vaccine was observed 2 weeks after the second dose.
“If you already had the virus and recovered, you still need to get vaccinated,” Dr Nisar said.
Although the vaccine has not been tested on children and pregnant women, Dr Nisar said an advisory in the UK has suggested that pregnant patients can take the vaccine only if they are at high risk of contracting the disease and that it should be taken as late in pregnancy as possible.
“The vaccine can also now be administered to people with food and medicine allergies, but people allergic to ingredients in the vaccine should not take it,” he said.(GNS)