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Medical experts back both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines in India

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MUMBAI: A group of medical professionals has endorsed the vaccines made by Serum Institute of India (AstraZeneca/Oxford) and Bharat Biotech in an attempt to address hesitancy among healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

The endorsement letter from 49 medical experts, led by AIIMS’ former director TD Dogra, comes after reports emerged that some healthcare workers are hesitant to take the vaccine jab of Bharat Biotech because it has not completed phase 3 trial.

“We urge the countrymen to reject any manipulation of vested interests aimed at politicisation and defamation of country’s scientists, doctors and scientific community for their narrow vested interests,” says the letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by ET. “They need to realise that by doing so these vested interests are wrecking the highly valued and credible scientific edifice created by us, which has made India a global leader in the export of vaccines…”

“India will roll out one of the world’s largest immunisation drives against Covid-19 on Saturday, with nearly 12 million healthcare workers expected to receive vaccination over the next few weeks.”

— Massive Drive

India will roll out one of the world’s largest immunisation drives against Covid-19 on Saturday, with nearly 12 million healthcare workers expected to receive vaccination over the next few weeks. However, there were concerns with the approval given to the vaccine candidate of Bharat Biotech, which has received approval in “clinical trial mode” because the vaccine has no efficacy data yet.

“For Covaxin, though efficacy data is not available but safety parameters are very good and there is a robust immune response seen with the vaccine. Further, this vaccine may also have better protection even against multiple antigens and not only against spike protein. This vaccine has been given approval in clinical trial mode keeping in mind the spread of mutant strains spreading from South Africa, and Britain,” the medical experts said.

They said the safety and immunogenecity data for Bharat Biotech was generated in various animal species such as mice, rats and rabbits, and challenge studies in non-human primates.

According to the letter, phase 1 and 2 trials for this vaccine were carried out in about 800 subjects and the results have demonstrated that the vaccine is safe and provides robust immune response.

“The Subject Expert Committee thoroughly analysed and evaluated data from clinical trials and has found that both Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin generate adequate immunogenicity,” Harsh Vardhan, Union minister of health and family welfare, said in a tweet on Friday.

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