Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 8
India is awaiting additional safety data on Covishield and Covaxin before recommending inoculation for pregnant women. AIIMS, New Delhi, Director Randeep Guleria on Tuesday said many countries had begun vaccination for pregnant women.
“The US FDA has given approval for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Data regarding Covaxin and Covishield will also come soon; some data is already available, and we hope that in a few days, we hope to get the full required data and grant approval for vaccinating pregnant women in India too,” said Guleria.
Chairman of the national Covid-19 vaccine task force VK Paul said as per current guidelines pregnant Indian women should not be given Covid vaccines.
“The reason for this is that a decision recommending vaccination to pregnant women could not be taken by doctors and the scientific community based on available data from vaccine trials. However, the government will clarify this situation in a few days, based on new scientific inputs,” Paul said.
The experts said many Covid vaccines are being found safe for pregnant women and India was hoping the route should open for the two vaccines as well.
“We request the public to be a little more patient, especially considering that the vaccines have been developed in a very short span of time, and pregnant women are not usually included in the initial trials, due to safety concerns,” Paul said.
Paul also said that if someone had a significant allergy problem, then Covid vaccine should be taken only after medical advice.
However, if it is only a question of minor allergies like getting common cold, skin allergies, one should not hesitate to take the vaccine, he said.
Asked about lactating women, the experts there was no need for lactating women to stop breast feeding before or after vaccination.
Guleria also advised people not to judge the efficacy of vaccines only by the amount of antibodies getting generated.
“Vaccines give many types of protection – such as through antibodies, cell-mediated immunity and memory cells (which generate more antibodies when we get infected). Data available till now shows clearly that efficacy of all vaccines – whether Covaxin, Covishield or Sputnik V – are more or less equivalent. We should not, hence, say take this vaccine or that vaccine, whichever vaccine is available in your area, please go ahead and get yourself vaccinated so that you and your family are safe,” said Guleria.
Paul said antibody tests post vaccination were not needed.
“Antibodies alone do not indicate the immunity of a person. This is so because of T-cells or memory cells; these undergo certain changes when we receive the vaccine, they become stronger and gain resistance power. And T-Cells are not detected by antibody tests as these are found in bone marrow. Hence, our appeal is to not fall into the tendency of doing antibody tests either before or after getting vaccinated, take the vaccine which is available, take both doses at the right time and follow Covid Appropriate Behaviour.
Also, people should not be under the false notion that the vaccine is not required if you have had Covid-19,” Paul said.