17 Jan, 2021
Dozens of health workers in Delhi who were the first in line to be inoculated against Covid-19 have experienced side effects from the jab, with one admitted to the ICU, as India begins its nationwide immunization drive.
At least 51 healthcare workers in India’s capital suffered minor adverse reactions after receiving the jab on Saturday. Health authorities said the most common side effects were dizziness and headache.
Several people reported tightness in the chest and were administered medical treatment, while one individual experienced a serious health emergency after suffering from headache, rashes, respiratory distress, and tachycardia after taking the vaccine. The patient was administered adrenaline and rushed to an intensive care unit, India Today reported, adding that his symptoms worsened for at least 30 minutes after being hospitalized. The case has been classified by health authorities as a serious instance of AEFI (adverse events following immunization). However, his vitals are now said to be stable.
India granted emergency approval to two variants of the Covid-19 vaccine earlier this month: Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, and Covishield, a jab based on the AstraZeneca/Oxford formula and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Both shots are being used in India’s capital.
In total, 4,319 health workers were vaccinated in Delhi on the first day of the immunization drive, although officials had hoped that more than 8,000 personnel would receive the jab.
India hopes to vaccinate more than one billion people, starting with 30 million doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers. The government says it plans to immunize 300 million people by August.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed the massive public health initiative as a clear demonstration of India’s “capability,” but his government has been accused of rushing approval for the two jabs.
Covaxin had not yet completed phase three trials at the time it was given the green light, and there have been similar concerns raised about lack of transparency regarding Covishield.
A representative from a health watchdog group, the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), told RT shortly after the two drugs received emergency approval that the “expedited” roll out of the jabs has raised questions about their review process.
Indian officials have labored to dispel rumors about the vaccines, including the belief echoed by some politicians that they can cause impotence. But in some cases these efforts appear to have only exacerbated doubts about the drugs.
Dr. Venugopal G. Somani, the drugs controller general of India, told local media that the jabs are “110 percent safe,” in an attempt to quash public fears. Later, the country’s minister of petroleum and natural gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, said that people who question the safety and efficacy of India’s Covid-19 vaccines are “mentally challenged.”