With an aim to ramp up vaccine production and to produce at least two billion doses by December 2021, the Centre on Saturday told the Supreme Court that it expects to get around 188 crore vaccine doses- to inoculate the entire adult population by the end of 2021.
So far, only about 5.6 per cent of India’s adult population has received two doses, according to the government. Strung by criticism in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre has presented a roadmap on how it plans to procure the remaining 135 crore doses. “Sputnik V vaccine, developed by M/s Gamaleya Institute, Russia has received Emergency Use Authorization by the DCGI in April 2021 and is now being administered in India,” it said.
Along with it, vaccines from domestic pharmaceutical companies Biological E and Zydus Cadila are in the late stages of clinical trials and subject to regulatory approvals, it said.
Experts state that people who have been fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 even if they do get infected will have a milder illness than those who have not been inoculated, several studies in India and abroad have shown. Experts have also said that vaccination is the only way out in containing the spread of the pandemic.
However, despite massive plans to bolster the inoculation drive, several cases have been recorded where vaccinated individuals are infected with the viral disease. In the first Delta-plus variant cases reported in Rajasthan, the 65-year-old infected woman from Bikaner had received both doses of the vaccine.
What Does Vaccine Efficacy Mean?
Vaccine efficacy refers to how well a vaccine works against the disease. The figures are given with respect to particular outcomes, such as infection, symptomatic disease, hospital admission or death.
For example, a Covid-19 vaccine is said to be ‘90% effective’ against symptomatic disease, it means vaccinated people have a 90% lower risk of developing the illness than those who have not been jabbed.
What Do Experts/ Studies Say About Vaccine Effectiveness?
As per recent data from the UK health department, full immunisation can offer about 96 per cent protection against hospitalisation and 79 per cent protection against symptomatic infection by the Delta variant- which was first found in India. Protection after a single dose, however, is much weaker at 35 per cent, according to the same data.
Studies have shown vaccines have been more effective against the alpha variant than the Delta variant. According to figures gathered by Public Health Scotland and published in the Lancet, at least two weeks after the second dose of Covid vaccination, protection against infection fell from 92% for the Alpha variant to 79% against the Delta variant for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. And for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the protection fell from 73% to 60% respectively.
Meanwhile, figures gathered by Public Health England (PHE), four weeks after one dose, either vaccine offered almost 50% protection against the Alpha variant. However, for the Delta variant, this protection was lower, with one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab offering about 36% protection and for one dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine this figure was about 30%.
A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which analysed over 3,900 fully vaccinated essential workers are more than 90 per cent protected against the Covid-19 infection. As per their ongoing study, even partially vaccinated workers are 81 per cent less likely to become infected than people who haven’t had been inoculated. The CDC study reveals that the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration reduced the risk of infection by 91 percent for fully vaccinated people.
A similar study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Odisha revealed that around 10 per cent of fully vaccinated people reporting a breakthrough infection that bypasses vaccine protection required hospitalisation. The preliminary study conducted during March 1 and June 10, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, found that 9.9% required hospitalisation with no significant difference between Covaxin and Covishield recipients and around 83.2% were symptomatic.
The ICMR chief explained that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin remained equally effective against the Alpha variant, however its neutralising capabilities reduced threefold against the Beta and Delta variant. Capability of the Covishield vaccine developed by the Oxford-AstraZeneca manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) reduces 2.5 to 9 folds against Alpha and two-fold against Delta. The data also show that Pfizer and Moderna’s capabilities reduce significantly against the Delta variant.
Does Vaccination Ensure No Hospitalisation if Infected with Covid-19?
As proven by studies, the jabs appear to offer similar protection against both variants and protection against severe disease is a crucial metric as a new wave of infections could push the healthcare sector to the brink.
In India, a study conducted by Fortis Healthcare found that a majority of fully vaccinated healthcare workers developed only mild illness after contracting the coronavirus disease and largely recovered under home care despite a surge in serious infections during the second wave of the pandemic. Only 1 per cent of fully vaccinated healthcare workers, who were infected, needed ICU care or ventilator support, the study said.
As reported by The Guardian, a PHE analysis stated, the Pfizer/BioNTech jab was linked to a 94% vaccine effectiveness against hospital admission with the Delta variant after one dose and 96% after two doses, while the figures for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab were 71% and 92% respectively.